Winifred’s Journey in Her Own Words


Credit: Elaine Dong
Credit: Elaine Dong

Hi there! My name is Winifred Ling and I am delighted that you've made a stop at Winifred & You: Flourishing Together.

Having this space where I can connect and share my knowledge, skills and personal triumphs has been a dream of mine. The last 10 years of my life has been filled with numerous challenges and adversities and they have undoubtedly transformed and enabled me to have a profound appreciation and respect for life. Life is indeed the greatest teacher as long as we are willing to show up and be her student. What I find most astounding is how everything that has happened is part of the process that bring me to this moment. This is a story about how my personal and professional life intertwine, feed each other and put me on a journey to a flourishing life.

By profession, I am a Psychologist and have been in this field for more than 10 years. I worked as a Psychologist at the Institute of Mental Health in Singapore shortly after graduation.  I studied psychology in college and have always been intensely curious about human behavior.  As an INFJ, also known as Counselor, I have a strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others and be in a position where I can make a difference in someone's life. Being a Psychologist provides me the opportunity to do that and utilize my strengths in the service of a larger goal.

However, it wasn’t until I stumbled upon Positive Psychology that my passion for it as a vocation was fired. Let me tell you about my journey of discovery.

The year 2004 was very special because I met the love of my life, Steven. Alas summer ended when I discovered that I suffered from a rare cerebrovascular disorder called Moyamoya Disease. The consequence of this illness is that I suffered from multiple mini strokes or what is called Transient Ischaemic Attacks (TIA).

It was a frightening period and I literally felt like a walking time-bomb because I never knew which attack would be permanent. In 2007, my illness progressed to a stage where it required a brain bypass operation. I had 2 operations done in as many months.

By the grace of God, the first operation was a success and I was discharged from the hospital in less than a week. My confidence bolstered, I went in for the second operation two months later but was not as fortunate this time. Due to complications during surgery, I suffered a permanent stroke.

At the age of 31, not only did I lose my right visual field, I also discovered, to my dismay, that I could not perform basic cognitive functions such as reading, writing and typing, and that my working memory was impaired. It was a very painful period where I had to learn basic stuff over and over again. To be able to write this paragraph was beyond my expectation then and you can only imagine the joy and pride that I feel right now for having overcome the obstacle and being in position to do what I love once again.

Shortly after Steven and I got married in early 2008, we embarked on yet another adventure. From Singapore, we relocated to the Silicon Valley in the United States of America! It was undeniably a dream come true because I have always wanted to experience life in a different country and see the world.

In my new country and home, I soon started to miss my old life. I had a job and my life was purposeful. I felt I was slowly losing myself. But the posting was an incredible blessing, I told myself. Being able to travel extensively within America was a blessing, I constantly reminded myself. So for the next three years, we both made America our home. Life in abundance is a blog where I document our interesting life as expats and my new role as trailing spouse.

I am aware that few people have the luxury of time and opportunity as I had to evaluate my life following my illness and rehabilitation. A natural seeker and susceptible to introspection, I spend most of my time reading, researching, going for relevant courses and conference to feed my need for learning and self-development. This is where I discovered Positive Psychology and The Gottman Relationship Institute. As I delve into this two fields, the fire that had lied dormant within begins to ignite and burn.

In a nutshell, Positive Psychology is the study of human thriving as opposed to psychopathology.  I am extremely excited that science can now show us how to lead a life that is more meaningful through positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. On a personal level, I found scientific theories which allow me to understand how my strengths and positivity were key to my success in overcoming those very dark periods of my life. This is where my personal and professional life intersect and place me in a unique and privileged position to tell you my insights. The psychologist in me helped me to be a better patient and likewise the patient in me empowers me to be a better psychologist.

In 2010 I became a Certified Gottman Educator (CGE) for the Bringing Baby Home Program. John Gottman is the leading world expert on the science of relationship and the theories and principles that he expounds are both research-based and researched-driven. More than a parenting program, the ultimate focus is on the relationship between the couple and the baby as they transition to a new stage of life. As a CGE, my hope is to equip new parents and even those who are considering this calling with knowledge, skills and confidence that will ease the process and aid them in becoming flourishing couple and parents.

To be sure marriage and family life is a lot of hard work. As newlywed, Steven and I had a challenging start and that became my motivation to pursue marital work. I firmly believe that we need to invest generously in relationships and family because at the end of the day they are the building block of a healthy and prosperous society. Consequently my new mission in life includes being an advocate for marriage and family and relationship as a whole.

The name of this website, Winifred & You: Flourishing Together reveals my desire to connect and encourage you on the path to greatness and fulfillment. Through my personal stories, I hope you will recognize aspects of your own life reflected there as you go through your own journey. Hence it is about YOU. What would it look like when your life is flourishing as you define it? Keep that image in your mind always, so that you can make it happen.  All of us need motivation and push to make changes in our lives and together it will be an easier endeavor.

The three main focus on this space are: sharing of my journey as Moyamoya and stroke survivor in light of positive psychology, how we can all flourish and relationships especially for new parents and/or parent-to-be. I feel honored that friends have encouraged me to share my story and because you have showed such keen interest, it provides me the courage to give voice to a story that I have longed to tell. In so doing I also like to reach out to other Moyamoya and/or stroke sufferers and their family and friends by telling you that you are not alone and support is available.

I believe this is my Happiness Project and it will lead me to a more flourishing life. What that entails to me is the opportunity to harness my strengths, talents, knowledge and experiences (both personal and professional) in the service of a larger community. It has taken me 3 years of soul-searching to find this new direction and all is worthwhile because I know how much joy, satisfaction and pride this will bestow me.

 

I am now back in Singapore and if you wish to work with me, please feel free to contact me. I am a co-director at W3ave and an associate therapist at Promises Clinic. Looking forward to hear from you.

 

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Come, let's flourish together!

 

 


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