Well, this is a difficult one to write.  This year started off painfully.  I didn’t have any clear goals or maybe I did but I wasn’t motivated to do them.  I had a formula (or so I thought) on bringing my mojo back but sometimes it’s easier said than done.  It’s always about getting yourself aligned spiritually, physically and mentally but everything was out of sync.  However, I knew I just had to do all these things despite whatever was happening.  Fake it till you make it or go through the motions and everything else will follow.

Looking back the last 10 months, amazing things have happened to me from travelling quite a fair bit, meeting celebrities like Halle Berry and Javier Bardem, getting on the cover of a magazine to launching a new book.  This year, however, the focus was on my health.

The trigger was someone I cared for made a comment about my size.  I have always been comfortable in my own skin (or so I thought) until I heard this said about me.  I was very hurt because I thought there was more to the friendship than it being something skin deep.  I am normally not fazed easily about anything but I guess when poison comes from someone close to you, it bloody hurts.  That all this while, the friendship was based on my waistline.  Yes, I know better that it’s a reflection of the person and not me but still.  Yes, words can really, really hurt.  It penetrates deeper than visible scars.

And then three friends died in a span of 10 days all below the age of 50.  It made me take a serious look at my health rather than my weight.  Yes, I wanted to lose weight but for the right reasons.  I looked at the most dangerous aspect of fat and that was visceral fat and sorry if is getting technical but this is the fat that clings to your organs.  I believe if we solve the core issues (in life), everything else will follow.

I did many things from watching what I ate, exercising regularly, going on a weight management programme, BTL to detoxing.  I am pleased to say after 10 months, my visceral fat went from 11 to 5.  Yes, I lost some weight in the process.  Hooray!

Looking back at my blog at the beginning of the year, I decided my word for the year was vibrancy and yes, it has been vibrant so far.  I also ask myself if I am a better me as a radio producer, trainer, speaker and the many hats I wear just because I am two dress sizes smaller.  No, I don’t think so.  I am a healthier person for it though so thank you for fueling that change.  Silver linings, eh?

If you haven’t seen the The Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, spoiler alert!  It was an enjoyable movie and it made me laugh out loud, something I haven’t done in a while.  It wasn’t anything new so to speak but they serve as great reminders in life and business.  Drax must have gotten all the best lines in my book though.

One scene in the movie has Nebula speaking to her sister Gamora, “All we do is yell at each other!  We’re not friends!  Drax went on to say, “No…we are family.”  Sometimes we can be the most honest and brutal to the ones closest to us.  Perhaps our guard is completely down and we can be ourselves warts and all.  Honesty is the best policy but perhaps saying things a little gentler might make the message more effective.  When shouting at loved ones or colleagues, everyone can hear you  but is anyone listening?

Another lesson was when Drax was insulting Mantis on her looks.  Coming from Drax, beauty is really in the eyes of the beholder where he wants his woman with a bit of meat to her bones.  In a poignant moment, he said “Beautiful people never know where they stand, but when an ugly person is loved,they know that it is for who they really are.”

I have to say I’ve had two people commenting on my physical attributes which really affected me (there could be more that I am not aware of!).  It mattered in both these cases because there were people I cared for and to think after all I’ve contributed and given, they could only see me at face value.  Two ways of looking at this, work on my physical attributes and let it eat at my soul OR take it as a learning opportunity to know what these people are really made of.

When working on your business, it may not look very pretty at the beginning but you know it’s beautiful inside.  I remember the early days at BFM when no one has heard of the station or understood what it was trying to do, I could already see the “beauty” of what the organization was trying to do for the community at large.  Is that how you see your business at the moment?  The beauty inside?

Peter Quill ends the movie paying a tribute to Yondu, his “daddy” and remembers how he was searching for his biological father all his life, “Sometimes, the thing you’ve been looking for your whole life, is right there beside you all along.”  Whether it’s a life partner, your job or your business, we sometimes miss the forest for the trees.   We search for the “one” who will give you sparks or the next “exciting” business venture and not pay attention to what’s in hand.  Everything takes effort and time and what’s worth it will come with some struggle and ho-hum moments too.  I’m working on my next book and while I can’t wait for the finished product, there a lot of tedious moments behind the scenes like writing it!  How do you make each moment meaningful will be the question.  Most apt to end with this awesome song.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uyb67x1C2Dg

2016. What a year, eh? We can look at things beyond our control or things within our control because there sure were a lot of things happening that were beyond our control which got a lot of us breathless and spinning.

My word last year was Focus. A great word indeed because I needed it. I think sometimes I lost focus because my word was not aligned to my actions. And the only person I can fool is myself. A bit like wearing a mask. No, not as bad as pretending I live such a glamorous and perfect life spitting wise sayings without a care in the world. Yes, you get those too! More like not losing more weight because I missed an exercise session. Over 52 weeks, you’ll see the fruits of your labour or not, in this case.

So what’s my word this year? According to the Oxford dictionary, vibrant is defined as full of energy and life, bright and striking (of colour) and strong or resonating (of word). So what does it mean being vibrant in everything I do? I guess in the area of friendship/relationships I will continue to invest my energy into it with vigour and love. When it comes to my work, give it a little more than 100% on projects I choose to take part in. Other areas like finance, family, spiritual, mental, lifestyle and in fitness, just add the extra ingredient: vibrancy. Make sure you check in with me on January 1, 2018!

2016, how I love thee? You have been full of surprises. Thank you for the mind-blowing experiences. Laughter and tears, the lessons have been invaluable. I wouldn’t change you for a thing. 2017, I’m inspired!

 

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Hello world. How are you? The Christmas decorations in malls are about to come out and it’s a reminder around end October and early November where I take stock of where I have been and what my plans for 2017 are.

I know I keep on moving because idle hands (and minds and lips) are the devil’s workshop so I’ve been told. So it hasn’t been anything but go, go, go this year. There have been many highlights, too many to mention. There were also many goals I had set out to do which has not been completed. I guess you get what you focus on.

Some highlights include developing a training programme around the 2nd book, Shake & Spear Your Business: The Romeo & Juliet Way together with Chris Tan. Book No 3 which was written in 2014 finally got published. I was also awarded Malaysian Startup Journalist Of The Year from the ASEAN Rice Bowl Awards. Opportunities come your way which may not be part of the plan but jump on it as in getting myself certified as training provider by the Institute of Training & Organizational Learning (ITOL UK) which was fully funded by a national programme.

Some things mysteriously happen when you write it down like doing more speaking and emcee-ing work. I also wrote for my work to take me regionally which has also transpired. My financial and career goals have been pretty much on track but there’s an upcoming spanner in the works

I had grand plans to visit Iceland this year as part of my lifestyle goal but other plans got in the way. I am barely scraping through my short quarterly breaks but have planned one for the end of the year. For my mental goals, I managed to squeeze in one voice lesson out of eight and this is way back in January and I never got started on silversmithing.

I removed some toxic relationships which were draining me and developed some new ones. As Dr Henry Cloud said in Necessary Endings, rose bushes although blooming needs to be pruned regularly to come back stronger and better.

There were/are a lot of questions and reflections on commitment, loyalty, dedication, priorities and hard work in the personal and professional capacity and I don’t spend enough time dissecting or processing these situations. Although I wrote down what I wanted in relationships, I do sell myself short sometimes and I why I do it is best answered by myself. In friendships, you are supposed to give without measure but if it’s not reciprocated or wanted, do you continue?

My spiritual journey had its stops and starts. Plans for a project got delayed and I have lost my mojo and interest in it even though I know it’s work that needs to be done. Allotted quality time spent with my son (yes, you have to put this in your schedule) were met plus a yearly holiday with my mums. Healthwise, I got trimmer and fitter from better eating habits but I think the weight slowly crept back again. Back to the drawing board!

I am a planner and I know some plans don’t work out the way I want it and some things are just divine intervention. I am reminded of this sobering thought in Proverbs 19:21 which I struggle with. “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”

 

 

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So I woke up this morning in what potentially could have been a foul mood for no apparent reason. I know I am about to hit that time of month and I always monitor my emotions. To say that periods don’t affect women is a farce. That said, it can be managed but it starts with self-awareness and then action. Some days they over react. Today was one of those days. And with that feeling, I quickly filled myself with positive thoughts throughout on Facebook, Instagram and everywhere I could see it and went for a run.

That famous saying by Eleanor Roosevelt “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” is etched deeply in my mind. Logically I know it’s the truth and yet I felt a dark cloud looming caused by that one person to many people. I wondered if my mind was going on overdrive or whether it’s instincts at play. Options were to pray, trust my instincts or feel the feeling anyway as yucky as it may be. I tried all options. Of course there’s journalling/blogging which I am doing right now.

My Facebook post had “We Rise By Lifting Others.” How could I possibly lift others when I can’t get up myself? I know the message behind that saying is that by taking the focus off me, I can lift myself in the process.

Of late, I’ve been sharing my go-to-strategy to bounce back and that is to look into my wheel of life. This is if I have put in effort in eight areas of my life; faith, fitness, friends, family, lifestyle, mental stimulation, finance and career. In fact, I’m giving that talk tomorrow. Just by checking my wheel of life, I’ll find if there were areas of my life not looked into and by doing so I develop a plan of action (except for now because I’m not in the mood. I TOLD you I know what needs to be done logically, but emotionally, that’s another story!), and get into a grateful mode of what I do have. That’s how I get my mojo back.

Sometimes it’s faster, sometimes it takes longer. And that’s ok, I’m only human. It’s just one of dem days. I’ll be feeling great tomorrow. Promise 🙂 Thanks for listening!

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I’ve been speaking to a lot of people about broken relationships over the past few years. I won’t call them “failed” because we know most relationships can be solved if they really want to, that is, if BOTH parties want to. And that takes work and effort. This goes back to how love is a decision and not a feeling, something we choose to be in come what may.

Common values as opposed to common interests. How many people have fallen in love because they have common interests? Mine was of music, food, travel, reading, movies, the same hometown and may I add God as little as I know of Him then. Heck, our mothers were classmates! It sounds like a typical romance, doesn’t it?

Over time, interests change. Then what? Why Men Need Sex And Women Need Love written by body language expert Allan Pease talks about how women’s goals change every 10 years whereas men never change at all. Yes, you could be stuck with that 20 year old boy for the rest of your life!

The Bible talks about looking for someone who’s equally yoked and I always feel that this goes beyond religion. Some Indians still practise the concept of arranged marriages and the idea is to look at the family backgrounds, financial status, intellect and educational levels and of course the same faith. If there is approval between the couple, then they proceed with marriage and fall in love AFTER marriage. I am simplifying things here but I see a lot of arranged marriages lasting the journey because the fundamentals were addressed at the get-go.

Of course we would automatically be attracted to someone who we have common interests with and that would obviously be the first base of connection. It’s just that we have to ask the deeper questions which I admit can be quite tiring as it’s easy to get caught up in the euphoria and excitement of the possibility of love. Here’s an article that talks about values in the marriage which include the usual suspects of unconditional love, faithfulness, honesty, open communication, et al .

Picture this. If two oxen are unequally yoked, one will be carrying the burden more than the other. To carry the load together doesn’t mean there is no load, but at least the load is equally shared. Common values will help you carry the load evenly whereas common interests won’t. Forget about passion, attraction, desire and dare I say it, lust, unless you want your judgments to be even more clouded.

Don’t get me wrong
If I’m looking kind of dazzled
I see neon lights
Whenever you walk by

Don’t get me wrong
If you say hello and I take a ride
Upon a sea where the mystic moon
Is playing havoc with the tide
Don’t get me wrong

The lyrics from a Pretenders hit. When you hear yourself gushing this way, oh oh. Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding” because the heart is most definitely misleading.

Unfortunately I haven’t found the magic elixir yet. There are still deep questions about common interests vs common values I have yet to get answers for. The romantic notion of looking at sunsets, drinking pina coladas and holding hands are still things girls hold on to (me anyway). Maybe one day I’ll hit the jackpot. As for now, be still my beating heart 🙂

 

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I have been living at my current place for over 10 years. This is your typical link house. The neighbour on the right have gone through two changes and both times, I have been blessed with wonderful people; helpful, friendly and kind. Of course, the story has to be about the neighbour on my left. There are many stories around this one like the time they complained about the leaves from my trees falling into their garden to to them parking their car in front of my gate blocking my entrance and I can’t see oncoming cars when driving out because my vision is obscured.

The point of all this is about the people we meet every day. Some we can decide like friends and many we can’t like colleagues, church friends, relatives to neigbours. Mathew 22:39 talks not just about loving your neighbour but loving your neighbour as yourself. As yourself?! How is this humanly possible?

Why can’t the rules be different like be nice to only your nice neighbour? I know the right thing to do and it’s only the grace of God that makes me mindful of my words and actions. I am waiting for that day that I will be graceful and kind in my heart and my mind and it becomes part of my DNA. We know nothing comes from hatred and violence and you can only win in love. This only comes with prayer for me and some serious meditation. In the meantime, I am a work-in-progress. What about you?

 

Integrity

How exactly do you teach and show honesty? I have interviewed many companies who always talk about integrity and honesty as a culture. Is it really the case and how do you measure “honesty” and “integrity”? One of the most interesting practices I have seen has to be PKT Logistics led by Dato’ Michael Tio (DMT).

He has an Honesty Corner where goodies are sold and no one monitors the place. Prices are listed and it is assumed that people will pay what is due into a collection box. At the end of the day, stocks are checked to see if everything is in order (there is no CCTV). In the early days, there were obviously discrepancies and an infographic is sent to all the staff (via Facebook and that’s another story altogether). And as long as there are discrepancies, DMT would declare that the company is dishonest. For a few years, the company was 40 to 60% honest. If it was constantly at this level, was the exercise even worth it?

What happened along the way was that employees pressured themselves (self-monitoring) and their colleagues on why this could not be achieved. Senior management also looked at ways to improve themselves. There were more frequent checks on a daily basis and when employees knew this was an important aspect, people bucked up. Accounts of what was transacted that day became prompt and punctual.

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Inspirational quotes were placed up to remind people that honesty is the end result of integrity. The encouragement and the results acted like a mirror and a reflection of what they were. As the honesty level went up, the quantity and variety of snacks increased. And now, the company is 90 to 100% honest. In fact, there were some days where over 100% was achieved. It was then called charity and DMT also had to explain that the company isn’t a charity organization 🙂

Having amazingly achieved the once-thought impossible 100% honesty at their KL Headquarters, this had a strong knock-on effect on the Penang office. This induced the Penang office Honesty Corner to raise their own standards and they too achieved 100% honesty levels within a quarter. Currently, PKT Logistics has taken on themselves to spread and embed this honesty culture into a college which they have invested into. Watch this space!

Are people innately good? I believe people would naturally gravitate towards the path of least resistance and take the easy way out. I would! I guess ALL behaviours can be developed if nurtured and encouraged; good and bad. Here’s the thing, the attitude and the culture of something as simple as this will definitely permeate into every aspect of life. I saw this Honesty Corner last year and was completely mesmerized and intrigued how something as simple as this can be effective with an organization of about 400 staff.

What does this teach people or about ourselves? How can we be honest about the big things if we can’t be honest with a Snickers bar? Can we all start a little Honesty Corner everywhere?

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. Luke 16:10

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My first encounter with Spain was in 2012 where I visited Barcelona, Figueres and Madrid (BFM!). At my final stop in Madrid, I headed out to Castille y Leon on a program called Vaughantown where I spoke English to Spaniards. We are placed in a boutique hotel and the Spaniards are not allowed to speak their local language for a period of a week. The ideal size is an equal number of Anglos (the English speakers) and locals; usually about 15 on each side.

There will be a combination of one-on-one sessions and skits and despite the language barriers, we do find a way to communicate. We always get to the heart-to-heart conversations about unemployment, politics, faith, families and just life in general.

The journey getting there this time was long; from Abu Dhabi, Rome and finally to Madrid. Thankfully the trip back was more straightforward going through Amsterdam before arriving home. These trips can take anything from 15 to 20 hours so why do I do this?

Over the years, I have made great Spanish and English-speaking friends and even make plans to meet at one of these programs to rekindle friendships. I have since done this programme three times and I am always the sole Malaysian. You’ll get mostly Brits coming with a smattering of Americans and Aussies. I always have a lot of explanation as to why I speak English and so the history lessons begin. And you know, I am probably the only Malaysian they will ever meet in their life and so I have to be a good ambassado!.

So this trip to escape from Chinese New Year, I went to this town called Belmonte. This is my third programme after a hiatus of two years. The last one was in 2013 where I went to Segovia where their famous suckling pig (cerdo) comes from. As if there isn’t enough food, there’s also plenty of wine to help with the conversations and a bit of time for their wonderful siestas.

Belmonte is a tiny, tiny town with a lot of history, I believe we stayed in a former palace and if not, it’s very old anyway. It was built in the the 15th century and the ruins are still left intact. I’m sure many stories can be told about the building and their inhabitants. It’s located right next to a cemetery after all! Belmonte is also where Don Quixote of La Mancha originated. The castle nearby is where El Cid’s was filmed (Charlton Heston & Sofia Loren).

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Why do I keep doing this programme? The friend I have made from my first trip will still make time to see me whenever I make a trip over. The guy who took me on a running tour offered to give me a free tour but I didn’t have time to meet him. The girl I stayed with in Figueres (Salvador Dali’s birthplace) through AirBnB has moved to Madrid and asked me to a Marc Almond concert (which I didn’t :(). Again, new friendships are forged with Spaniards and Anglos alike. Parting is such sweet sorrow. How can I not return? I don’t know when I’ll do this programme again but I know I will. In the meantime, goodnight Spain!

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Hope

Human beings can live for forty days without food, four days without water, and four minutes without air. But we cannot live for four seconds without hope – Hal Lindsey

I apologise for only voting for the first time at the last elections. I apologise for being lackadaisical all these years. I apologise for allowing stories of bribery to cops or projects given unscrupulously and accepting this as “a way of life” and not reporting about it or speaking up. I apologise for letting the termites and locusts eat at the foundation of this nation. Maybe it’s taken us over 50 years to wake up from this slumber.

Moving forward, I promise to speak up and not partake in questionable activities and it starts by at least voting. As it has taken us over 50 years to get to this stage, we can’t expect change to happen overnight although we live in a world of instant gratification perpetuated by social media. I will try to make a difference for the next generation and for the next generation; be heard by registering and utilising your right to vote. For the rest of us, fight the good fight and don’t give up hope.