Thursday, 9 December 2010

Toastmaster Speech 1: Learning through Life

Dear blog viewers,

I am back! Even better - I am happy, positive, healthy, slim, and even start taking better photo of myself. And I vow to update this blog more frequently. :) . Thus, I post the ice-breaker speech I have made in my Toastmaster club here.

Words in italics are those I have cut out from my speech due to limited time.

Ladies and gentlemen,

If I ask you to use one word to describe yourself, what will come out from you?

Yes, only 1 word.

Will it be - Happy? Sincere? Humorous? Grateful? Ambitious or Aggressive?

For me, the word is Passionate.

Ardent love, boundless enthusiasm, strong emotion, intense desire – they’re all tied with being passionate. Passions comes from our hearts. And, I believe our hearts are what drive us and create our fate!

I am passionate about many things, including my hobbies of reading; mountain hiking, scuba diving, traveling and I love beach vacations.

I also love cute guys and vampire movies. And when I have both, I am hopelessly addicted. Guess what - I am fan of Twilight and Vampire Diaries! Anyone here who does not know what is the “Twilight Saga” ? (Yes) It is a set of vampire-themed fantasy romance novels that are turned into movies. Stephanie Meyer, the author of Twilight, is actually one of my idols. I admire the fact she was able to create an intense love story and strong characters that millions of people love – all, with her writing. That is a great achievement. I love to be an author someday because I am passionate about writing too.

But on top of all those things, mostly, I am passionate about life itself and also learning through life. I think life is fascinating. Difficult at many times, but that makes it more fascinating. There are always so many things to learn. No one and nothing can stop us from learning.

I like this quote by Mahatma Ghandi "Live as if you are going to die tomorrow, learn as if you will live forever". Learning, in fact, is a lifelong mission.

I learnt a lot of things during my career.

I started working at the age of 20. At that time, I just completed my Diploma in Computer Science and I decided to pursue my Degree on part-time basis while working full-time. 6 years into my career, I was promoted from the position of Programmer to an IT Manager. I have 20 people reporting to me at that time and they provided the specimens for me to learn management. I was doing all sorts of things I like - Technical as in Programming, Design and Architecting, Product Management where I helped my company to create a product that generates 1 million recurring revenue for our company and turnaround from making losses to breaking even. Then, there are some Project Managements and most interestingly of all, People Management.

In people management, I learnt how to develop leaders, give raises and promotions, showing appreciation - believe me this is hard. And also in a awkward situation – to give feedback to my subordinate about his distinctive “body scent” – it was challenging but I like it when I am done with that.

8 years into my career, I decided on an important move in my life and life has been like a roll-coaster for me since. At one time, I would say I was at the lowest point in life.

I think life is very similar to mountain hiking. It takes a lot of energy and perseverance to hike up the mountain. But you know you will reach the top, and this always keep you going. I remember the first time I tried mountain hiking is at the 6th toughest mountain in Malaysia, Mt. Ledang. It was my first time and I had no idea what was it going to be. It was a 3 days, 2 nights hike. There were 7 members in the group and, and I was the only female member.

I remember the leader, one of my friends, asked me sceptically whether I was really sure to go for that. Being the weakest gender of the group, he kind of expects I would drag down the team. Turned out, I am much better than he thought. In fact, I think they are all amazed. I was racing third in the group, I never complaint and I never asked for a rest. When they ran, I ran.

When I reached the peak, there was this huge satisfaction. I guess that is why I love mountain hiking.

So, tying back my mountain hiking and my career when I decided to make the big decision to move, I can say - I was at one peak of the mountain, but I want to reach to the other higher peak of the mountain. To do that, I cannot just jump from one peak to another. I have to go down the mountain and climb the other peak. I had to let go of the thing I didn’t want before I could grab hold of the next thing.

I think I have reached the bottom, so I am actually starting the ascent. I think joining Toastmaster is one of the things that will help me in my ascent. I want to try new things and not afraid to take risk. I have made a lot of mistakes but I am not afraid to make some more. I am happy to be still learning and growing. That is most important.

When Steve Job, CEO of Apple Computer, delivered Stanford University commencement address in 2005, he said “You’ve got to find what you love”. And, he closed his speech with a message in 4 four words, which always resonate and stay with me.

“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”.

Thank you.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

9 reasons why girls fall for Edward Cullen

It is always fun talking about Twilight series and particularly Edward Cullen with my girlfriends. The excitement and vibes just make us feel younger.

And of course, Ayuen, you are not alone. Furthermore after the meeting, BI posted a photo and tagged us girls on Facebook. Let me clarify – it is a photo of Edward Cullen posing half-naked and none of us girls are in the photo. (To BI: I do not think that is how the tag is designed to works. I am expecting I am somewhere there behind Edward in the photo..hehe). And Ayuen talked about the big possibility that I will be drooling over the picture. I am.

But really, I am actually more infatuated with Edward Cullen’s character. But with Robert Pattinson being so gorgeous, it just creates the drooling effect. So I decided to write a fun post today about why girls fall for Edward Cullen (a break from my more solemn writings nowadays on my breakup).

I also want to understand myself what are the reasons why girls fall for Edward Cullen; despite he is sexy and gorgeous, is a vampire as well as have super powers. We all know the character is fictional, but there are a lot of reasons why girls desire Edward. So, Stephanie Meyer’s success is largely attributed to her ability to bring out that special character for us!

So, here are the reasons why girls fall for Edward with comparisons of Edward’s world with our real world :

1. Edward created a world for just him and Bella.

No Twilight-lovers will forget the scene where Edward carried Bella to climb up the tallest tree to view the extraordinarily breathtaking scene. Bella gasped “This isn't real. This kind of stuff just doesn't exist” and Edward replied “And it does in my world”. And then they spent time talking and hanging out “on the tree”. The world at that moment belongs just to them. How romantic is that?

Edward always gives his full attention to Bella when they are alone and sometimes even when they are not alone. Compared to our real world, people are constantly hooked on their phones /gadgets/ computers and seldom give full attention to their partners. Very often, Edward talks to Bella in her room until she falls asleep. He also holds her when she sleeps and he watches her all the time. This seems a bit creepy especially with the strange fact that Edward never sleeps, thus have all the times for Bella. But, the point is to pay full attention to your partner when you spend times together, no matter how little times are that. Create some quality times!

2. Edward is protective, but not up to the point of being too controlling.

In Eclipse movie, when Edward and Bella reached their school and Edward knew Jacob was waiting for Bella there, he asked Bella “If I asked you to stay in the car would you?” Before he even finished, Bella rushed out of the car and Edward finished with “.......Of course not.”

See, he asked her instead of telling her what to do and he did not even get mad when Bella ignored him. That’s protective without being controlling, I guess.

In the book, Edward also constantly asked Bella to keep herself safe. But most of the times, Bella just went about being just like her own self – prone to dangers and mistakes. Edward never blamed that on Bella. In the book, he pleaded “Please make a conscious effort to keep yourself safe. I’ll do everything I can, but I would appreciate a little help.”

Well, Edward can be controlling at times. Especially in Twilight, Edward followed Bella to Post Angeles and managed to save her from a potential rape or murder. I think that is called stalking and I disapprove of it, though I do not mind and actually like that in the movie.

But I think Edward’s controlling behaviour decreases over times, especially after he left Bella in “New Moon” with the intention to keep her safe. Instead, he exposed her to the danger of acting foolish and also revenge from Victoria. I think at that point, he realized that he could not really control what could happen to Bella all the times, so he just have to trust her and trust her judgement.

3. Edward’s meekness is sweet.

In Twilight, Bella asked Edward what music he listened to and hit the play button. Edward answered awkwardly to the music being played, “Debussy...I don’t know.” His meekness and uncertainties at that time is very lovable.

In the real world, sometimes we will find people try their hardest to impress by bragging how much they know, how many great things they have done and what good taste they have by exhibiting their designer clothes, expensive gadgets, etc.

Even though Edward has special powers and is a vampire, he thinks himself as a monster and a person who lost his soul. This is a bit depressing sometimes but I guess it is because he scrutinizes himself more than he scrutinizes Bella and others – a simply great virtue.

Some people perceive meekness as being soft or weak. From a word of a British monk and spiritual teacher - Meekness in itself is nothing else than a true knowing and feeling of a man’s self as he is. Any man who truly sees and feels himself as he is must surely be meek indeed.

4. Edward always watches and controls his own reaction to Bella.

This is related to the previous reason. For one to truly love, they must continually task themselves to self-scrutiny, which is the essence of humility or meekness.

Edward is almost never really mad at Bella, whatever she does. The irony of wanting her blood so much make him knows that, if he loses an inch of control, he may end up killing her. Thus, I find Edward’s control is really self-sacrificing and a humongous effort on this part to be near Bella but never lost control. In the book, we can hear him said to Bella “I can't ever lose control with you.”

He also said: “Will you please tell me what you’re thinking? BEFORE I go mad?” Even in this situation, I think he is saying he is mad at himself rather than mad at Bella.

5. Edward always tune in to Bella’s thoughts and feeling.

The fact that he can read everybody’s mind except Bella’s makes Edward try harder than anything to tune in to Bella’s thoughts and feeling. Because of this, he keeps asking how Bella is feeling and what she is thinking.

This might be uncommon with most of the guys – who seldom really ask their partner how they are feeling and thinking about things but instead “try to read” (NO, they do not have power like Edwards to read into people minds) and assume. Most of the times, they assume wrongly – that’s why the saying that “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” is validated over and over again.

In the movie or book, he also always asked Bella “Are you afraid of me?” He asked when Bella knew he is a vampire and he asked that when he killed Victoria by dismembering her in front of Bella. You can sense his genuine concerns when he asked that. He seems to care so much about what Bella feels about him.

Edward said in the book - “Never be afraid to tell me how you feel, Bella. If this is what you need… You are my first priority.”

6. Edward never trumps on Bella’s awkwardness, instead he shows his admiration.

When Edward told Bella that he can read minds:
Bella: Is there something wrong with me?
Edward: See... I tell you I can read minds and you think there's something wrong with you?

In other case, Bella is worried about how Edward’s family will perceive her. Edward responded “So you're worried, not because you'll be in a house full of vampires, but because you think they won't approve of you?” and he laughed.

As I blog earlier, it is so common for people to set standards and judge you on that.

7. Edward is very understanding despite his jealousy.

He is not even holding grudge against Jacob, his love enemy because he understand that Jacob has the right to love Bella. Bella also has the right to hang out with Jacob because Jacob is her friend and he was there for her when Edward left her.
Edward said to Jacob. “If we weren’t natural enemies, and you weren’t trying to steal my reason for existing, I might like you.”

And Edward’s reaction toward Bella and Jacob kissing in Eclipse - astonishing! I do not think any guys can act like him and that’s why guys hate Twilight!

When Edward knew Bella might be mad at him for something he has done, he said to Bella. “Shut your window if you want me to stay away tonight. I’ll understand.” This seems like a great way to earn forgiveness fast– not pushy but be understanding.

8. Edward is willing to admit he is wrong - sincerely.

I live with people who think “My way or no way!”. Thus, when Edwards genuinely admit he is wrong in the following words (in the book), it is simply amazing!
We’re doing this your way. Because my way doesn’t work. I call you stubborn, but look at what I’ve done. I’ve clung with such idiotic obstinacy to my idea of what’s best for you, though it’s only hurt you. Hurt you so deeply, time and time again. I don’t trust myself anymore. You can have happiness your way. My way is always wrong.

9. Edward is hard on his own faults rather than others.

I think this is almost similar with the reason Edward being meek. But I want to make a distinction here. Edward is less forgiving to his own self compared towards others and this is simply such a great virtue.

In the real world, this is usually reversed. People forgive their own selves quickly but hold grudges against other people’s mistakes for a very long time. In fact, some live in the world, pushing all responsibilities and blames to others.

Edward admitted to Bella “I’ll never forgive myself for leaving you. Not if I live a hundred thousand years.”

Edward not only realizes his errors and is harsh on himself, but he also know and willing to bear the consequences. This is one of his quotes in the book:

When I left you, Bella, I left you bleeding. Jacob was the one to stitch you back up again. That was bound to leave its mark — on both of you. I’m not sure those kinds of stitches dissolve on their own. I can’t blame either of you for something I made necessary. I may gain forgiveness, but that doesn’t let me escape the consequences.

Any other reasons you love Edward Cullen? I will love to hear from you.

Friday, 20 August 2010

How do you define the purpose and function of your love partner?

My ex said:
The purpose and function of my woman is to keep our house clean and tidy as well as keep me well fed with home-cooked meals. Those are the only 2 things I demand and there is strictly no negotiation.

These were reasonable demands except for me; it was really like asking me to climb a tree with one arm. It was clearly disastrous!

Then we spent a lot of times pondering why I failed when most women can do these well with ease.

There were a train of reasons:
I was pampered too much before. It was really easy to fall back to my old bad habits. I always forgot here and there. I was busy. I was lazy to change. I just did not put my heart and soul to it. I just did not care enough for him to change.

It was already stressful for me to try to live up to a standard that I was so bad to start with. But with all these speculations on why I was so awkward compared to other women, it really flushed down my self-esteem to the drain. All of these left a huge strain to our relationship.

Nevertheless, I also realized it was for my own good to learn those skills. I used to think the solution to my problem was to hire a maid. But, we were then talking about the basic survival. Without any help from other people, I need to be able to take care of myself and my family.

So, with much perseverance, I got much better.

It solved a lot of our problems.

But then, there were MANY other problems with us.

For him, the problems are mostly with me.

For me, he is the one who create a lot of problems because he likes to find problems with me.

I have to admit I do have a lot of problems. But I have tried my hardest to improve. If trying the hardest is not enough, then I got to accept that things were not working out. With due respect, I am glad I have given it many tries and I am forever thankful to him for making me become better in a lot of things. Eventually, I have to accept who I am and get on with my life. It took a lot of heartaches and I kept wondering why our relationship could not work out even though I put all my heart on it.

Then, unexpectedly when I was not really looking for answers, I found them. It provides a profound realization and another perspective to what he asked of me and why I always seemed to fail him.

In his book “The road less travelled”, Dr. Scott Peck heard one man of the couples group stated that the purpose and function of his wife is keep their house neat and keep him well fed. He was aghast by that statement and he called it blatant male chauvinism.

What surprised him was most people gave similar answers to the “purpose and statement” of their partners. They define the purpose and function of their wives or husbands in reference to themselves and fail to perceive that their own mates might have an existence basically separate from their own or any kind of destiny apart from their marriage.

He said “it’s no wonder that you are all having difficulties in your marriages, and you’ll continue to have difficulties until you come to recognize that each of you has your own separate destiny to fulfil.” I cannot agree more.

He then proceeded to declare the purpose of his wife, Lily - is to grow to be the most of which she is capable, not for my benefit but for her own and to the glory of God.

I could not believe how different it was between Dr. Scott's views against the one that was set upon me before. I felt a lot of anguish for being coerced and measured against some criteria set by someone who declared his love for me. I could not stop crying for a while because I realized then with all the soul, I have a deep desire to have my loved one define my purpose and function is to grow to be the most which I am capable, not for anyone benefit but for my own and to the glory of God.

Someone who realize that each of us have separate destiny to fulfill.

Image Courtesy of

Monday, 2 August 2010

My Life over Coffee

The woman on the table next to me was sitting so close that I could smell her shampoo. When she stroked her hair with her hand a few times, I wish silently she does not have dandruff.

My favorite coffee place was very packed. But taking great delights in my coffee and typing away at my keyboards, I could care less about hogging my seat for 5 hours now.

These are moments I spend times to do the things I like. Actually, nothing much in particular – just spends times with Susan.

Yes, that’s me.


Despite the noisy and crowded environment, I am oblivious to things around me. Only my computer, my book and coffee got most of my attention.

Occasionally, I glance at some women and take note of their hair styles and dresses, trying to be some kinds of fashion police.

I notice one woman in a black and tightly-clad dress, which makes her looks too thin. Another woman has a beaded hair. She is pretty but I think her hair style is a mistake. Then I notice a lot of women’s eyes with heavy mascaras. It makes me wish I am wearing it like them, except I am just too lazy to do makeup.

This is funny though. My fashion sense has always been below average but it is so easy for me to judge others.

I was surfing the net just now until the Wi-Fi Connection became unavailable an hour ago.

While surfing, I managed to read some blogs, check my emails, access Facebook. Recently a friend from Denmark, whom I befriended in the chat room more than 15 years ago, suddenly got back in touch with me.

After 15 years?

Surprisingly! But it was back at the time, when mIRC is the most popular chat software. I also read few pages of the book I brought along.

Seriously, I cannot be without a book everywhere I go!

I text-ed my good friend just now to ask her out for dinner next week and we confirmed on Tuesday. My parents called to ask me something about giving away my brother’s old computer.

This is my typical weekend when I am not going out with friends or doing something useful with my time.

This is the “quiet” time for me to write and reflect on things around me.

My life has been series of new discoveries now.

On Friday last week, I waited for the train for an hour only to get stuck when it broke down just few minutes after taking off from the station. I was trapped in darkness with hundreds of people. It was stuffy. Luckily the doors could be pried open and a few people got out from the train. I only discovered then that the train is actually quite high from the grounds. So, I did not feel necessarily for me to get outside as long as the air was flowing in. Some got impatient and walked back on the railroads. A dangerous move, I have to say. Accident happens all the times and having your body run over by a train is no funny business.

On Friday this week, I have a surprising finding which is very good news to me. It makes me feel an unexpected good turn of life – at the time when I am least expected it. I also almost lost my office laptop because I left it at the Mamak stalls but I was so lucky the store keeper managed to keep it for me. Another lucky , lucky break! Thank God!

Few weeks ago, I visited the Myanmar refugees and experienced a lot of things. And I managed to write about this.

Yesterday, I went for blood donation for the first time. (Yes, for first time, can you believe that?). And while I was having the blood sucked out of my body, a cameraman from one of the TV station decided to point his camera at me. Haha. I wonder whether I was going to be on TV.

And I also went together with my friend to take her dog to the dog clinic – also first time for me.

Next week, I am on something new too.

I think I am content with my life for the time being, despite my broken relationship.

It has been more than 3 months now. It is easy to be depressed or think of the things that make me sad. But I know that I have to keep moving forward. Think of positive things and let go. Forget the past and forgive.

People say the initial breakup period is like livings in a void, where we feel disorient and going on an emotion roller coaster.

But I know this is the important time of my life, because this is the time when I can reflect on my inner self to find wisdom in life.

I think I will miss this when this is over, no matter how hard it is now.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The life of Myanmar refugees

My wife is sick for 3 days but I only have RM50 on hands for all our expenses before the next pay day. How can I afford to send her to see doctor?

The local police and RELA keep extorting money from us instead of helping us. They tear up our UN identification papers, raid our house and do full body check on us to search for money. They take our money even if we are left with 50 cents. When will we be able to escape from their bullies and from losing our hard-earned money?

How long we have to stay here before UN can transport us to our permanent resident in US or Australia where we can really settle down? Some of us have waited for 5 years and some up to 10 years and there is still no news.

I can only work illegally when my boss calls me. Sometimes, it is only once, twice or none a week. If I do not have job, I cannot feed my wife and our kids. Will I have a job tomorrow or even next week?

Are my children and wife safe in our home country? I miss them so much but I know I cannot go back. The only way for us to be united is to bring them here. How do I find a big load of money to pay the agents to bring them here? Will they be able to escape from the army and survive the harsh journey to come here?

How does our future look like? When can we live without all these worries?

Every day, these kinds of thoughts haunt the group of 40 over Myanmar refugees who are staying in two small flat units at Jalan Imbi, at the capital centre in Malaysia. Their living condition is poor. They barely have enough fresh food and usually eat chicken bones with rice. Sickness visits them as regular as friends. Many of them, especially the women, lost few stones as both appetite and food quality deteriorates. For some men, their wives and children are thousands miles away and they live everyday with the risk of not able to see them ever again. For men with families, they fear they cannot provide for their wives and children. Hopes and dreams have deserted them for most of the times. Worries come like swarm of flies, uninvited and hard to drive away. Their everyday life is so uncertain and future holds no promise to them. It is like they have escaped from one hell, only to end up in another, so to speak.

Back in Myanmar, they were the oppressed group, whose half-century struggle for independence has made them particular targets of the military. Village raids, pillaging, murders, genocides, and rapes are not uncommon. Children are kidnapped and enlisted to the army, only to suffer beatings, starvation, brainwashing and being left to die. But leaving their home to come to Malaysia is not easy either. They went through painful struggles to adapt to the new environment where no one speaks their language except the few country fellowmen. And it is a point of no return because they will be shot to death if they go back. Even though they are lucky to be alive and away from the brutality in Myanmar, they are stripped of their total freedom in terms of their body, soul and spirit. It is like they have to go through failures and heartbreak almost every day, thinking but not knowing how their life would be. These scars of their emotional abuse run deep and wash away their feelings of self-worth.

Despite the harsh reality, they are not completely at lost. At the very least, I think they are blessed with 3 invaluable things:

  1. First, their faith in God and Christianity is strong. They pray with remarkable intensity.

  2. Second, there are at least some warm-hearted people who care about them -a group of generous Christians and a woman who has been looking after them for about 1 year now for 1 group and another group for few months. The woman is Madam Esther. She visits them twice a month and brings them rice, fresh vegetables, chickens, clothes, Vitamin C, medicine, games for the children- among other things. She teaches the women knitting and even buys them threads. When she learnt some have eyes infections, she bought eye drops and eye wash for them. She works hard to get enough funding to keep bringing these gifts to them. She sings with them, talks to all of them and encourage them to talk about things like what they are thankful for ("Thank you!" in Myanmar is "chei-zu tin-bar-te"), what they are feeling and what they hope for. She is even planning to bring all of them to the Zoo in this coming August. It will definitely be a fun day for all of them, especially the children.

    I say, most of all, she brings them love and hope.

  3. So, the third blessing is also their love. Though they are deprived of many other things, they are not short of love to give. They love their families. They love and help each other.

    I hear of James who is already in United States. As he has a steady job and a home, he provides shelter and food for his fellowships, those who cannot get a job yet. I hear of an uncle in US who help to sponsor tenth of thousands to enable his brother’s families to be united in Malaysia.

No wonder Esther says she is the one who is blessed in her visit and not the other way around.
Esther explains this crucial fact to me - the most important mission of their cares is to help the refugees to restore dignities in their life. It is not just about bringing them food, but to be there for them constantly so that they know they have people who care about them and can be relied on.

It is a gratifying experience for me to be able to join Esther on the visit on Sunday, 13 July to get to know the life of the Myanmar refugees in the 2 flat units. I find them to have very mild and relaxing manner, even the men. They are also very courteous. They pulled out the chairs for us to sit while they all sat on the floor of the tidy living room. They offered to carry everything for us, even our own handbags. The women are pretty and slim; some are a bit thin because of sickness or loss of appetite. The women speak no other language except Burmese, but the men, most can speak good Malays. They learn it while working for the local bosses – a testimonial of their strong wills, adaptabilities and brightness.

The kids are also very bright and active. There are 3 kids who perform wonderful songs and dancing for us. They understand English quite well because they learn it at the school – a service provided by the NGOs. Unfortunately, I cannot remember most of their names, except for a boy names Solomon and the girl, whose name sounds between “Tracy” & “Crazy”. I still cannot figure out her exact name even though I have asked her to repeat more than twice. There is a small kid who smiles very often and he looks very adorable in his red-striped shirt and little brown vest. And then there is a kid who is born with bandy legs, but he walks swiftly everywhere, obliviously carefree of any impediment. I learnt this from his father, Peter, who is a pastor and also our translator. Then, there is also a teenage kid who is deaf but so smart and observant that he instinctively showed us the ways when we were at lost on which staircase to take to go up to their flat.

They all are really captivating.

I think and believe this. Though life is difficult, we can only sink so low but we won’t stay there forever. With even a little spirit and faith left, and most of the time, with helps from some generous people, we are going to rise up and have a future that we may never dream of. Not only we create a future for ourselves, but we also create a future for our children, so that they do not need to go through the same hardship we have been through. Even though we may not become rich, but we are in many ways, successful.

And every little piece of dignities that is restored lead to that. And, we should be reminded again – this is not only Esther’s mission but mission of God as well.

P/S: Esther will welcome funding from any generous people. Please contact me if you would like to contribute - I will introduce you to Esther.

Image from

Friday, 23 April 2010

I'd try to make more mistakes next time

An inspirational poem by Nadine Stair, age 85

If I had my life to live over, I'd try to make more mistakes next time. I would relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have on this trip. I would be crazier. I would be less hygienic. I would take more chances, I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers, and watch more sunsets. I would burn more gasoline. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I am one of those people who lives sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I have had my moments And if I had it to do over again, I'd have more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else. Just moments,one after another. Instead of living so many years ahead each day. I have been one of those people who never go anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a gargle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I had to do it over again, I would go places and do things. I'd travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.
I would play hooky more. I wouldn't make such good grades except by accident. I would ride on merry-go-rounds. I'd pick more daisies!

I have made lot of mistakes, but I think I need to learn through all these mistakes as lessons in life. Thus, no matter how hard is my situation, I try to live my life positively day by day. I believe when I am 85 and when I look back to today, I would feel no regret because I have made all the mistakes I could. I have tasted life at its best and worst. I have people who help me and people who abandon me when I fall. I have seen goodness and evil. I have endured prejudice, contempt and condemnation but I also have received kindness, favors and inspiration.

I think I am doing just fine....

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Life may not be all beautiful - but it is worth fighting for

If you think your life is bad and you lose your wills to fight for your life, then read the true stories below:

Story 1: True Inspiration to Choose Life

At 27 in December 1994 - Alison was abducted outside her home by two men who raped, stabbed and disemboweled her, finally slashing her throat 16 times to make sure she was dead. No-one could have believed that anyone with such severe injuries could live but, miraculously, she did.

This is her account on how she could have given up after being left by her assailants to die. Instead, she chose to live - to at least make one last effort to bring those monsters to justice.

"I was 80 metres from the road but if I was to have any chance of survival, I somehow had to get there.

When your throat has been cut from ear to ear, you have no muscles to hold your head forward. So when I stood up, my head flipped over and rested on my back. My insides were also spilling out. So using one hand to hold my head in place and the other hand to keep my stomach together, I half crawled, half staggered toward the road."

I was shivering when I read the story. This should not happen to anyone - if God has mercy. But it did and instead of carrying hate and resentment for the rest of her life, Allison decided to move on with her life.

Today, Alison have written a book, been speaking professionally for several years, got married and given birth to two beautiful children. Her message is - Life is beautiful. Life is worth fighting for . It's not what happens to you, it's what you do with it.

You can visit her website at
This story is also included in the book - Happiness in Hard Times, by Andrew Matthew.

Allison lives thousands of miles away and I never see her in person, but in this next story, this happens very near home.

Story 2: Sometimes, we find hero in people who may appear normal or even weak

Let just say - I made a brief acquaintance with a sweet-looking girl of mid-twenties. She holds a Degree and normal executive-level job. Though she is not considered successful in her career yet, but she is working hard towards it.

Behind her struggle towards success, there is a shocking story. When I learned about it, I was very disheartened and angry but at the same time, but I hold much admiration for her - for what she has been through.

One night, when she woke up after a drinking sessions with her boyfriend and his buddies, she found herself in a hotel - in an unspeakable condition. Her drink was spiked and she was raped by around 5-6 guys during that night. And to believe that your boyfriend can do this kind of things to you?

I wonder what is happening to the world we live in. Her boyfriend comes from a wealthy family where his parents have a lucrative business. But who would wonder, they bore such a monster?
I thought about the girl who has gone through such trauma but instead of languishing in her sorrow, she pick up herself and is working hard to become successful. I also thought about other people who are lucky in their life but lack the passions and want to do just enough to get through life halfheartedly.

So, behind the facade of everyone, there maybe another different story - a hero, a nobody or an evil. It is really hard to know sometimes. Because a person who is kind to you may have an evil heart. Or, a person who seems to be rude and loud, may actually be a very nice person inside.

In Chinese saying, you have to - wear "glasses" to "see" people. I am not very good in Chinese , but I think it means you need to see the inner side of a person , not just the surface. Also mean you have to be careful sometimes, even with people who seems close to you. Be aware of things, be smart in choosing who you mix with.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

15 Tips to Lead a More Healthy and Less Stressful Life

I wrote this list about a year ago to motivate myself to follow a more healthy life-style. Since then, I added few more items as I learned new tips. Somehow later, I failed to follow my own advice. I hit myself on the head to start again. Then, I failed again. And now I blog about this list to make sure I can stay committed - or hopefully so.

I shared these few tips with Jeffrey too. He acknowledges these are important things to do - that he too wants to start to lead a more healthy and less stressful life. But he failed miserably (much more than I did). I reminded him but saw him failed again. Few days ago, when his health is on the verge of falling apart, he said he will commit again. I said "Let's see". He reminded me about my post "Does it take a lot to give words of encouragement to people you love?". I apologized. He asked me to blog about the list. I remember I wrote the list somewhere in my notes. Maybe it will help to remind him again as he always read my blog.

So, here is the list. You probably know most of these, but just to remind you again.

1. Get enough sleep.

Remember, it is important to get enough rest. Our bodies need to be "shutdown" (I do not mean total shutdown) to recuperate and regenerate. If you are constantly deprived of sleep, you behave differently - groggy, short-tempered, panicky. This affects you and others as well.

2. Sleep and wake up early

For the same number of hours of sleep, sleeping and waking up early is healthier than sleeping and waking up late. Also, when you wake up early, you can start the day without rushing.

While it is important to maintain a consistent sleep pattern, do allow some exceptions sometimes especially on weekends. After all, you should enjoy the freedom of life too. This is not much a healthy tip, but I think it works for me to keep me happy.

3. Learn how to sleep well

Maybe you lay awake for several hours before you can fall asleep. Maybe you toss and turn in your bed during sleep. Maybe you dream a lot in your sleep, making you feel like you have not really slept. Maybe you wake up and still feel very tired. Any of these mean you are not getting enough of good quality sleep.

Actually this is the problem with your mind. While you want to "shutdown" your body, you need to first shutdown your mind ( a good link here). Practice clearing your mind before you sleep. Put all your problems away. I also try listening to some music that purportedly make me sleep more soundly. I think it works sometimes because I feel more refresh during the day.

4. Eat healthy and on time.

Your diet is important - more vegetables, fruits, fiber, less meat, less sugar, etc. in your daily meals. Eat on time, eat less portions but more frequently.

Also, drink your coffee without sugar. I am coffee lover- I cannot do away with coffee. So, the best way I can do is to try to keep away from sugar if I can. Plus, if you are coffee lover, you should love the taste of coffee without sugar.

5. Eat supplements consistently

This is the easiest thing you can do. Add supplements to your shopping list and then just take 1 minute everyday to pop the pills down your throat.

Before I consistently take supplements, I get sick quite often. While I believe supplements are important, some supplements are overly priced and overrated. Thus, I do not think you need to eat very expensive supplements to be healthy. I take Vitamin C and Evening Primrose Oil everyday. They are not very expensive. But I do take bird nest once in a while - that is expensive, but it keeps my body heat up so that I do not feel cold easily. Plus, it supposes to give me better complexion - which I definitely hope so!

6. Exercise

If you say you do not have time for exercise, you are just making excuses! You know you can "make time" for it. It depends on whether you want to or not. Even Barack Obama said he will commit to his weekly gym hours despite the heavy job of overseeing the whole country. You may dread to go to exercise, but trust me, once you do it and keep the routine, you feel much greater than you ever feel before.

I find it hard to commit myself to exercise too. But every time after I finish my session at the gym, I feel so great, so fresh and even my complexion is better - this work faster than bird nest! I find exercise also tests my perseverance - to keep to the exercise routine and even to push my limit further during the exercise.

By the time I finish compiling this list and writing this post, I have gone to the gym 2 times in this week. I feel great and a sense of achievement for keeping to my commitment.

7. Start and maintain a detoxify program

I found this video and article a month ago. I think it is cheap and effective ways to start. I think you should not waste your money on commercial detoxification products before you try this.

8. Get back to nature

Go to lake, forest, garden and any other natures. Have a walk or jog outside (exercise and nature is good combination). If you do not want to exercise, maybe have a picnic, sit down to read a book or just do nothing- except to breath in the fresher air and calm your mind.

9. Give yourself a break from the technology.

Give yourself a break from the technology gadgets and the noise from them once in a while. Close your laptops, computers, and TV - you do not need them all the times. Have a quieter moment for yourself. Light a candle and burn some aroma oil.

Also, you are not on call 24/7. If every time your phone ring and you jump to answer it, you are leading much a stressful and rigid life. Give yourself a break, you do not need to answer all calls immediately. You can always call back later. I know this is getting on some nerves of my friends and family, but sorry - I need peace of my minds sometimes. I sometimes forget to call back too. I apologize for this.

Last week, I saw a couple in a coffee shop. Once they sat down and ordered their coffee, they went into their "silence" mode to "interact" with their own iPhones - all the while (in about an hour) I never see the couple talk to each others - and they are certainly not mad at each other. I find this disturbing and wondering whether we are spending too much time in technology gadgets rather than with people, especially those whom we love dearly.

10. Meditate and start on your spiritual journey.

I am not very religious, but I believe in God and all religions which teach us good things. I believe spiritual practices are very important in our life.

Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop an individual's inner life; such practices often lead to an experience of connectedness with a larger reality: a more comprehensive self; other individuals or the human community; nature or the cosmos; or the divine realm. Spirituality is often experienced as a source of inspiration or orientation in life. It can encompass belief in immaterial realities or experiences of the immanent or transcendent nature of the world.

11. When you are working, be productive.

When you are working, focus on being productive. Do not chat with friends, read your horoscope, check your personal emails and do other non-work related stuffs. If you are productive during working hours, you can actually leave on time but you still achieve a lot more than others. Leave work on time for at least 3 days a week - this means you can work overtime for 2 days a week if you have to.

Please do not be those lazy bums who are so adamant to insist of leaving on time each days even though there are tonnes of work to do. While you need to keep a balance between work and life, you have certain responsibilities towards your company and even to yourself to maintain high quality in your work. So, if there is really a need for you to work extra hours - there is really no harm for this.

Having a less stressful life does not mean you have to deliver mediocre works. Never settle for mediocrity.

12. Plan and do things in advance.

On each night, take some times to reflect the day - what happen, what had you learn, any mistake that you can correct? Always plan for the next day. Even when you are having a hard times or going through a crisis, planning and living one day at a time can work out well. This is most important even if you have no idea what you want in life or what can happen to you in the next minutes. Even planning the next few hours are good enough.

If you are more blessed, then you can plan your vacation in advance, plan your family time, plan to have your own personal time. Even put these in your work calendar - just mark you are busy.
Plan for next week at the end of each weeks. Plan for next year, plan for next 3 years, and next 10 years. Keep in mind also things do not always happen according to plan. Thus, it is important to have backup plans as well. And be flexible (note item #16 on the list)

On your job, do your reports and time sheet in advance. Do not wait until the last minutes before submission.

13. Do self-talk and focus on what you want

We all know about self-talk - how important to have a positive image of ourselves. We are all living in a world where most people are focusing on negative sides of us- you are lazy, you have not done enough, you are fat, you only think about yourself, you are stupid!

While you need to acknowledge your own weaknesses, you also need to believe and remind yourself this - you do have self-worth and deserve to be happy. So, say this to yourself every morning when you look into the mirror. And don't depend on other people to make you happy!

If you are an unorganized person, say to yourself in your self-talk - "I am an organized person." Focus on what you want to be.

14. Spend times to improve yourself. Embrace Change.

You need to constantly improve yourself and learn new things. In the book "A Class with Drucker" by William A. Cohen, Peter Drucker said this- If you keep doing what worked in the past, you're going to fail.

People or companies that cling to their past successes will eventually fail, sometimes in a spectacular way. Change is inevitable if you are going to stay successful. Be ready to turn on a dime and abandon everything that has made you what you are. Better yet, be a forward thinker and create your own changes and your own future.

So, if you think you do not need to improve because you are already good enough - you are terribly wrong.

I find that we can learn a lot of things from book , from the Internet, from observing people, from others who are willing to teach us and even from those who may be lesser than us in anyway. But learning also means we need to put things we learn into action.

15. Be flexible.

In Happiness in Hard Times, by Andrew Matthew (picture included) , this is the advice on being flexible.
Trying to control the world and judging everyone in it wears you out. Don't argue with what has already happened. Roll with the punches, enjoy life's surp

I can write a whole new posting on being flexible because I learn a lot from my own experience. When you are angry and upset when things do not turn out the way you want - when things get delayed, people make blunders, people cutting queue, people breaking their promises, etc. - you are disrupting your own peace of minds and damaging your own health. In most times, you also make the people besides you to be unhappy because of your sullen mood and rage.

I am also guilty - I am angry when things turn out badly. But my anger is more inwards. Instead of straight away lashing out at people and then forget about it, things may boil inside for few days and I harbor resentment towards people who cause me the pain. Now, I learn to let go.

Finally, your mindset and behaviors also count a lot!

I can start a whole new list on this because begin healthy involves having a healthy mindsets and behaving in an appropriate manner. Following are important to work on:

* Have faith in things larger than us.
* Look for good things in our life and be grateful.
* Forgive people - forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.
* Practice detachment - detach does not mean you do not care, you can care greatly but be detached from the outcome. Do the best you can do and then let be and let go.
* (the list goes on....)

Monday, 29 March 2010

Finding Grace in a Hurried World

When the woman in front of me at the supermarket check-out line offers to let me go first, I glance at her and then at her trolley. I am carrying a basket with at least 10 items, but hers is not a lot more than mine, maybe 20 - 25 small items, mostly filled with green vegetables. And considering the 2 women in front of us who have their trolleys full of groceries and one of whom is paying with credit card - which means more delays; I cannot understand why she let me to go first.

Thus, I politely decline, "It is okay. You do not have a lot of groceries yourself". I regret the moment I say it. Since stepping into the supermarket, I race from aisle to aisle, picking things into my basket, choosing the fastest queue based on a complex calculations of number of people in the queue, how full are their trolleys and whether the cashiers are aware of what they are doing or just daydreaming. The reason I do not go to the fast lanes is because they have more than 8 persons in the queues in each lines. I swear my heart beat faster than normal on that day.

I do not expect I have second chance, but surprisingly, I do. She offers me again - "You sure you do not want to go first?" she asked. This time, I take the time to look at her carefully. I guess she is in her forties, but she looks very vibrant. She is of medium height and slim build. She wears jean and white blouse with simple floral pattern - I think she manages to look both casual and elegant at the same time. She makes me feel the warmth in my heart- she is not only nice, but genuinely and persistently nice - a gracefulness that is uncommon in this world where everything has to be fast, convenient and self-adsorbed.

This time, I take her offer, grateful for her angelic gesture. As I finish packing the last items to the bag and it is now her turn to unload her things, she smiles as she conveys, "Cannot let others go first again or else I will never have my turn". She looks over the woman behind her to make her point, who is also carrying a basket of items. I smile back at her understandingly. She makes another impression on me for even giving another thought to the woman behind her after she has just let me go first and the fact that she admits freely - things she is not proud of.

I find her grace to be motivating - remind me not to always hurried through things and forget to think about other people beside me. And also, not to forget to act in kindness to people, including those closest to me and even strangers - who may just happen to be behind me in the line.

My review and reflection for The Garden of Words

I just watched this short animation work from Makoto Shinkai. I had previously watched his grand hit 'Your Name' and absolutely fel...