Friday, December 31, 2010

Simple beauty

Beauty is such simple things in life like the frangipani that grows in the garden. We seek for exotic beauty often neglecting to appreciate the simple beauty of things around us.

Same attitude in our search for happiness. We travel far to seek for happiness when happiness in within our reach if only we pay attention.

May we all find happiness within our reach.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My yoga practice

I suddenly have the urge to want to do handstand.  That's coming from someone who could not touch her toes two years ago.

Walked into my first Bikram class not knowing what to expect and was hooked since then. It started with falling in love with the experience of shutting down the mind and focusing on my breathing for 90 minutes. Nothing else in the world matters other than just breathing, following the teacher's instruction and staying in the heated room. It was the only time I calm my mind.

There are still many postures in my Bikram practice I am struggling with. On some days, I cannot even manage the basic ones. Weird as it may sound, some postures that started quite easy grew difficult.  I recalled how I used to fear back-bend. I was scared. It was until one of the teachers who told me that back-bend is all about receiving love that I finally mustered the courage to give it a try. And the initial months of my attempt to do back-bend made me nausea.

Some days, I beat up myself for not perfecting many of the poses. Then I recalled how I started, a woman who could not even touch her toes. I have improved a lot since then. Instead of being too hard on myself, I simply have to practice and continue to believe in myself. Someday, I am sure I can do the handstand.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


"So, are you going to church?" is the question many people asked when I told them I celebrate Christmas.

I have not been to church for a while and have no plan to attend a mass just because it's Christmas. I do not care about impressing others to be seen in a church packed with worshippers. For me, Christmas like any festive season is about spending time with friends and family. It's about celebrating love across all denominations and culture.

My kids recognize Christmas as a special day where they get to spend time with the family. We put up the Christmas tree in November and buy cane candies. Christmas eve is dinner party at home with friends and family where they get to stay up late and eat chocolate cake. But they do not ask for Christmas presents. They are so blessed they do not know what presents to ask for.

I love the festive mood of Christmas just like any other festive season I celebrate. And yes, it's all about friends, family, love and feast.

Feeling alive

Over a few glasses of wine, a friend in her 50's laments that she misses feeling alive. This is a woman who moved to a foreign country with three young kids while finding time to help her her husband's business.  This is a woman who decided to start her own business when her kids are adults.  She now works ten hours daily.  This is a woman you want to invite to a party 'cos she warms up the room.  Yet, she is feeling as flat as a can of soda left in the sun.

She no longer gets excited and doesn't quite know what she needs to do to feel alive.  Not that she is complaining about life. She knows life has been good to her; she has brought up decent kids, she is healthy, she is financially comfortable, she is surrounded by family and friends.  She is not unhappy.

Are we simply being too demanding on life? Is it too wishful to have it all and want more? I too am grateful for what life has given me yet like my friend, I yearn to feel alive.  Is this a sign of mid-life? Or are we going through a phase of soul-searching?  Are we all seekers?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Year resolution

It's that time of the year when we feel most inclined to draft up New Year resolutions. I have the habit of listing down what I want to achieve in the year to come. Some of my previous resolutions amongst others were learning to scuba dive (done, PADI open-water certifed), running 10k (done), progressing to running half-marathon (done, improved my time to slightly less than three hours at 2 hour 56 minutes), travelling (travelled to more places than I can ask for), start writing (taking baby steps with my blog but finally made it to the Ubud Writers and Readers festival).

It is easier to tick off the tangible items on my list. But what about the intangibles? I want to be wiser, more compassionate, more patient, more understanding and better at listening. How do I measure whether I am a better person as each year passes by? Have I learned to forgive? Has my presence touched someone's life in a positive way? Has life taught me to be a better person?

As I look at myself in the mirror and notice new lines on my face, I hope I am a better person with each pasing day. There is no boxes to tick as it is an on-going process; it is not the destination but the journey that matters.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

No reason to be cranky

There's really no reason for me to be cranky. Work, which usually drives me up the wall, is slowing down. Afterall, Christmas is round the corner and festive mood is in the air (and in every malls in town). People are either out of town (which means traffic has eased off) or are busy exchanging gifts. And I have received a few gifts myself.

Yet, I am in a lousy mood today which makes me seem ungrateful in the festive season when we should feel thankful. I was not able to contain my crankiness and probably chewed a few heads. Was upset over the silliest thing like not charging my iPad. Trivial stuff gets to me today.

Perhaps it's the absence of "me time" over the last two days when I was out with colleagues on business trip. Perhaps it's the lack of yoga or running which I find therapeutic. Perhaps it's PMS.

Whatever the reasons, I've decided to take care of myself. This means skipping a tempting invite for a drink to go for yoga practice. This means giving myself "me time" to decompress whether it's writing or resting.

I acknowledge how I feel and recognize that this is part of being me. I no longer feel bad and beat myself up for having a bad day. Instead, I take this as a cue to take better care of myself. I am learning to be kind to myself.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What's after aceptance?

Have you woken up feeling thankful for your imperfect life and wondering what's next? Perhaps it's age, perhaps it's the effect of yoga practice, but I am going through a phase of acceptance. Not quite the zen stage of acceptance where if someone slaps you on one cheek, you present your other cheek cos I can still be fiesty when I want to. It's a feeling that in spite of all the imperfections, I am truly thankful.

Yet that leaves me grappling with what is next. I used to be driven and constantly aiming for the next milestone to accomplish. Am I now to sit and wait for life to present itself?

May be this is a stage in my life where I learn to still my heart and mind so I can better listen to my inner voice.

For now, as I wait, I will count my blessings and be thankful for all things big and small and for everyone who's touched my life.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


In yoga class, the teacher told us where our eyes lead, our body goes. This reminds me of physchology class 101 where the same concept was being taught. The more a driver tries to avoid a lamp post, the higher the tendency he drives into the lamp post.

I am trying to relate this to my work life. There is a colleague I totally cannot stand. He gets on my nerves. To be extreme, I feel suffocated being in the same room as him and hence try to avoid him at all cost. Unfortunately, my work requires a certain amount of interaction with him. He is my nemesis.

I have yet learned how to deal with him. But I'm now trying to deal with how I feel instead. I can choose to see this as a challenge in life I can avoid or an experience that stretches me and make me a better person. Do I need to make an effort to like him? That would be too much of a stretch for now. Just like yoga where I listen to my body, I am now listening to my inner voice. I will choose not to focus on him instead focusing on how I feel. I will try not to focus on him and instead of being agitated by him, I will choose to let the negative feeling go. I refuse to let someone insignificant to me hold any significance to how I feel and how I lead my life.


Woke up this morning feeling lazy.  Not the negative laziness where you wake up exhausted but lazy in a good sense where I don't feel a sense of rush.  Usually wake up with a list of things I plan to do for the day which results in me jumping out of bed and tackling my plan diligently.  Yet today, I woke up with a sense of surrender.

I decided to listen to my body to just relax and rest.  Spent the whole morning over a cup of coffee at my front porch surfing my favorite topics.  The weather was cool after the rain last night.  My kids seems to take the cue and was just going about enjoying themselves playing around the house.  No one seems to care that we do not have plans for the Sunday.

I cherish moments like these.  Nothing exciting yet it brings a sense of blissfulness.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Having fun?

Do you remember when was the last time you had fun?  I am referring to doing something you truly enjoy it, something that lets you forget time and makes you feel good. I've forgotten how to have fun. I've asked myself how that is remotely possible but reality slaps me hard. I take things far too seriously.

Work for me is serious. It is all about working hard, achieving the target and attaining the next promotion. Motherhood is equally serious as it comes with enormous responsibilities but no road map. Even yoga which started out as fun is now becoming a challenge as I drive myself to do better; deeper back bend, stretch further and of course keep my knees locked.

I seem to have the impeccable capability to turn anything fun into serious. And that of course is no fun.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Don't expect to be confronted by my biggest regret in life now.  Thought regret are what the elderly do when they look back at their lives.  And I've always secretly hope that I would live to the fullest within my capacity with no regrets.

My aunt spent her life taking care of nine kids; nurturing and caring for us. She loved us unconditionally and was always there for us.  And now, she's no longer there.

I would so much like to have another chance to see her and tell her how much she meant to me.  I still find flashbacks of her memory and memory is the only thing left.  I recall the songs she love, the body lotion she likes, the food she used to cook and the time we spent.

It was hard seeing her in pain in the hospital and it was equally painful seeing her go with her last breath. If only...

My Aunt

I still can't bring myself to write about my aunt's death.  She brought me up since I was a baby.  It doesn't seem real she is no longer with us.  For all my life, she has always been there for me.  She loves me unconditionally.

Things have gone back to normal after the cremation on Saturday.  We have all gone back to our daily routine.  Yet I feel something missing in my life.  There's a gap I can't quite fill.  I have many things I still want to do with her and things I want to share with her.

I have not even told her how much I love her and how much she meant to me. I am forever grateful to her.  Without her, I won't be who I am today.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My relationship with my bathroom

One of the early scene of Eat, Pray, Love shows Julia Roberts in the bathroom devastated and praying for guidance.  I can relate to that.  When I was going through difficult moments of my life, I've spent many nights crying and praying in the bathroom.  It was the only place I can be on my own and totally release my emotions without fear that the kids will see me cry.

Looking back, I've always had a unique relationship with my bathroom.  I recalled hiding in the bathroom to study for exams when I was living with my aunt and half a dozen of cousins through secondary school.  That was the only place in the condominium we shared where I get time alone to study without distractions and imposing on the others.

The bathroom has been my sanctuary.  With all the different roles and responsibilities, I especially crave for time alone.  The bathroom is the easiest escape for me.  It is where I now find time for myself soaking in the bathtub over a glass of wine, favorite music playing off my iPod and browsing through a book or magazine.

I am glad I no longer go through nights throwing up over the toilet bowl from too much alcohol.  My relationship with my bathroom reflects the state of mind I am in and the journey of my life.  Nowadays, I occasionally practice yoga poses and dance to my favorite songs in my bathroom.  I am thankful where life leads me and I am thankful for my bathroom.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Alcoholics never think they have too much to drink.  Workaholic know they work too much but justify but telling themselves it's a necessity.  I read somewhere we are all addicts.  According to Wikipedia, addiction is a form of dependency on things, activities and even feelings.

We are all aware of addiction to substance; drugs, booze, tobacco, food.  Some of us are addicted to watching TV.  There are also other forms of activities we are addicted to.  Those who follow Tiger Woods's divorce reads that he's said to be addicted to sex.  Even too much of a good thing is bad; there are people who are addicted to exercise. And of course, most shopaholics would deny they consume too much.

There's the less obvious addiction to feeling.  The feeling of high from gambling.  The ecstasy of love. It may sound crazy but some of us are addicted to negative feelings that make us feel lousy; depression and guilt.

Yoga teaches us to balance.  It is more than balancing on one leg.  Yoga teaches us to have a balance approach to life and balance is what addicts need.


Didn't run this morning and feel guilty. Feel even more guilty as I recalled that piece of creamy donut I ate yesterday.

Feel guilty not spending enough time with kids yet feel guilty leaving office early.

Guilt makes me feel lousy. Constant guilt makes me feel depleted.

Yoga teaches me to let go after each pose yet be totally present while doing each pose. I guess that is how I need to start approaching life. To immense myself in the present and then to just let it go. Guilt is perhaps another form of attachment to the past.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I realize we like to keep ourselves hectic. As much as we complain when we are busy, most of us actually prefer a schedule sardined-packed with activities, leaving us no time to pause and no time to think. We don't know how to manage free time although I doubt there is any time that can be considered free nowadays with the advance telecommunication gadgets that we are enslaved to.

We are now glued to our smart phone which keeps us entertained with all the social media available at our finger tips and iPad has made accessing the web so much more convenient. We keep ourselves productive by fiddling with our phones, laptops and iPads whenever we have that split second of space. We fidget when we have nothing to do. We no longer take time in between activities for real break where we let our mind rest and listen to our breathe. We rushed from activities to activities and from places to places. Doing nothing makes us nervous. We would rather not deal with thinking about life, our priorities and what makes us happy. Perhaps many of us are using a busy schedule to numb ourselves from having to deal with the question of what life offers us and what we make out of our lives.  A busy schedule keeps us having to face our disappointments and fears.

Many of us resemblance the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland who's perpetually late and always in a rush for no apparent needs. We are too busy to enjoy life. We go through the motion without living. I've made up my mind that I want to stop being the White Rabbit. Most of us don't have the luxury of quitting our job and taking on a lifestyle that allows us to sit back and relax. However, what that means is to prioritize what is important and being conscious so as not to fall back into the habit of busyness.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Women and hobby

Over lunch, a friend of mine laments that she does not have any hobby. Aside from juggling a banking career and a family with 3 young kids, she doesn't have time to cultivate a hobby. Unlike most women I know, men however seem to have time for golf, biking, running, playing futsel, playing badminton and the recent fad of riding a Harley cladded in leather.

I am not here to blast men. Instead I would like to encourage women to learn from them. Men have no qualm demanding time for themselves.  They act like it's their birth-right to have time to do what is fun. Women on the other hand feel guilty finding time for ourselves.  Like my friends, most of us who manage a career and family barely have time. And we succumb ourselves to accepting that our own needs are less important than the needs of others around us.  We give and give, not knowing we are depleted. We get more serious as we take on more responsibilities life thrust our direction. We forget to have fun.

It's time for us to carve time to do what we enjoy, what makes us happy. Think through what you really like to do when you were a kid. What magazines and articles catch your attention?  Take classes that are outside your comfort zone. Be open to invitation from friends to join them for workshops and events.

Several years ago after my second child was born, I was also trapped in a situation where I don't have any hobby aside from bed-time reading. I was not particularly passionate about any interest and I am not one of those lucky fews blessed with talent.  I've since then embarked on a joyful journey searching for my interests.

- Painting
I signed up for a basic painting class and spent many Saturday mornings playing with paint.  Realized I am not Picasso but it was nonetheless fun playing with paint and seeing the canvas filled with my creation.  I've stopped the class but I've since learned to appreciate paintings more.

Hadiparana Art Centre (+6221 7196354) in Kemang offers several art classes. (

- Scuba Diving
A few young colleagues invited me to join their scuba diving class. I've always loved the ocean and scuba diving lesson was inviting. We took the class and went for the PADI certification at the islands near Jakarta. Build some great friendship from the lessons we shared. I've since then went diving in Bali a few times and loved the serenity and beauty of the deep ocean. 

Bali Scuba (+6236 1288610) offers PADI certified classes and organize diving trips in and around Bali. (

- Golf
I picked up golf for practical reason it is good for networking. There are many driving ranges and many golf instructors that give golf lessons;  you can find certified instructors who are pricey and also those who teaches based on experience but have no certification. It depends on how much you are willing to spend and how serious you are in perfecting this sports. Ultimately, it comes down to practice, practice and practice. I've not caught on the golf bug and now only play once or twice a year.  Check out the many golf academies in town or simply go to one of the driving ranges and you will find instructors that suit you.

- Yoga
I was trying to find ways to unwind. After a long day, I used to feel physically exhausted but my mind was still running amok. Walked into Bikram Yoga class one day and it transformed me. I've since then sleep through the nights like a baby, learn to breathe better, have better posture and can actually now touch my toes. Flexibility has definitely improved. I now look forward to sweating the whole week's of stress and toxic in my weekend classes. 

Yoga at 42 (+6221 7197379) offers hot yoga classes conducted by certified instructors. They also offer ashtanga yoga and several other yoga classes. (

- Running
This is the easiest and cheapest pastime I've picked up.  Started running after I signed up for the 10K run in the annual Singapore Marathon and was addicted to running since then. For me, running is therapeutic. To just let go, and run. To feel the breeze and the sun. 

If you would like to join a serious running group, check out Jakarta Spirit. ( 

- Writing
It is now so easy to write. Facebook is a good media. Or check out Twitter which allows you to share your thoughts, observations and anything interesting. Did I mention you can shed your inhibition since you can be anonymous on Twitter?

There are so many activities we can pick up and I am sure everyone's interest is different. What is important is to do what is fun. To bring some joy and laughter into our lives. Let's not find excuse and let's enjoy life.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Baby step towards my writing aspiration

Flew to Bali over the weekend for the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.  Had wanted to check out this event since it started as a small local event but for some reasons (or perhaps excuses I conjure), I never made the trip.  It is now a successfully run festival well-known in the region.  There are participants from all ages and nationalities.

A few close friends asked why I would choose to spend my time and money on a few writing workshops which are unrelated to my profession.  Being a banker, our requisite to write is minimum and meant to be kept concise; the key word to business writing after all is KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).

I am glad I went.  The workshops exposed me to several useful writing techniques. Different lecturers pass on different writing tips depending on the topic of the workshop and also depending on their background.  An author gives a different view of the literary world from a publisher.  Among the many interesting tips and insights shared, the most interesting take-away is that writing is less about talent than practice.  I suppose excluding the exceptionally talented few, the rest of the writers simply have to keep writing away and perfecting the skill in time.

It is both inspiring and intimidating to be surrounded by so many aspiring writers.  I felt inadequate to many who have been writing for a while and words seem to just flow from their thoughts.  I decided this time I will no longer let fear stop me from writing.  I am privileged enough that I am not writing for a living.  I write because I like to write.  Hence, there is no justification for my irrational fear of writing except for fear of bruising my ego.  The constant worry that I cannot write well has kept me from even starting.

Some day, writing will come to me naturally.  Until such time, I will chip away word by word, paragraph by paragraph.  I will continue to tweet, blog and scribble and let words carry me away.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What middle age woman can learn from "Something's Gotta Give"

Watched "Something's Gotta Give" last night and laughed so hard I shook the bed.

Diane Keaton is charming in her quirky way as the 50 something whose daughter came home with a boyfriend in his 60's. Jack Nicholson is the chauvinistic bachelor who is unable to commit. Anyway, Keaton and Nicholson fell in love. And of course, he was too scared to commit. She was heart broken and her otherwise controlled world was turned upside down. Keanu Reeves is the handsome young doctor who fixed Nicholson's clogged heart and mended Keaton's broken heart. Would leave you to watch the movie to get the ending; will she stay with the man twenty years her junior who adores her or the man she loves.

Lessons every middle age woman can learn from the movie:

1. Don't wait for a man to come to your life. Make the best of your life. Have a career, enjoy your kids, celebrate friendship. Live life the way that makes you happy.

2. Don't shut down your heart. Open your heart to love even though you may get hurt. Life is not worth living without feeling real love no matter how brief. And soul mate does exist for the very lucky few.

3. We are still attractive. Even though we no longer look perky, we are charming in our own skin. We replace our innocent demeanor with wisdom and strength that come with experience.

4. Be who we are. Do not apologize for how we've turned out. Keaton's character loves wearing turtle neck even in the summer but that does not mean she is frigid. In one of the scene, she had Nicholson cut off her turtle neck when they were making out. This scene is hilarious.

5. Celebrate your sexuality. I've seen enough women look better as they age. Take care of ourselves with exercise and good nutrition. Dress our age. Push up bras do help every now and then.

6. Be confident. We've been through enough ups and downs and nothing can rattle us. We've earn our strips in life.

7. Be compassionate and kind. Beauty comes from within. And life is too short to bear grudges.

8. Take time for yourself. Learn a new language, travel, learn a new skill. An interesting mind makes a beautiful woman.

So, all my friends out there, let's embrace life and just enjoy the rest of our ride.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010


Life is not perfect. It will never be. Yet I am thankful.

I am thankful for all the people who have crossed my path and touched my life. There are people who believe in me more than I believe in myself. There are people who helped me through difficult moments in my life. There are friends who never fail to share their shoulders to cry on.

There are also people who made life less pleasant and cause me sleepless nights, endless tears and stomach ulcer.  I have learned to be thankful for the experiences these people put me through. I choose to believe these experiences made me a better and stronger person. I've learned to empathize.

For all that, I am thankful.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


A client of mine told me over lunch yesterday that her second son used to look ugly as a baby and come nothing close to how adorable the older brother is. She showed me the pictures and utter that he now looks much better though still not as good looking as the older and younger brother. I am baffled. He looks cute. As far as I am concern, most kids look cute anyway. As a mom, I find my kids totally adorable regardless of what others think.

I wonder what effect it has on a kid knowing your parents think you look ugly as a kid. My brother-in-law has twins and he keeps comparing them. He thinks one is a genius. He and his wife are in praise for that kid openly. I would hate to be the other kid.

Guess we all make mistakes as parents. But some mistakes can actually be avoided. If only we apply the rule "do onto others what others do unto u" to our kids. And who can the kids count on for unconditional love if not their parents.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Let's run

If you question someone why they enjoy running, you'd probably never tried running. I'm not talking about running on a treadmill in an air-conditioned room with your eyes glued to the TV.  I'm talking about running outside, feeling the wind on your face and having a change of scenery every step you take.

For me, running is therapeutic. I let my mind go and simply allow my body to feel the rhythm. I either run listening to my ipod and letting the music pump me up. Or taking it slow soaking in the view that pass by.

In San Francisco, I ran along the pier loving the gorgeous view of the sea, the bridge and the islands far ahead. The cool breeze brushing on my face. In Singapore, I ran along the river. Enjoying a quiet Clark Quay, Boat Quay and Robertson Quay before taking a pause at my favorite old bridge in front of the Fullerton Hotel. In Jakarta, my routine is a run in my neighborhood; the street vendors pushing their carts, people walking their dogs, the beautiful flowers and fruit trees.  No cool breeze in Jakarta but I love how the sky turns orange when the sun starts to warm the air.  Occasionally, you can smell the fragrance of the frangipani trees.

I don't think of anything when I run. Perhaps that's what meditation is all about. Just feeling the run and enjoying the moment.  It helps me unwind and keeps me fit.

For those who've not tried running, let's put on your running shoes and take the first step to go outside and just run. Enjoy your run.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Beauty for who

There are women in Jakarta who go to the saloon everyday to wash and blow dry their hair.  Vanity is a woman's birth-right.  However, we tend to go the extreme in our effort to look good. Botox, tummy-tuck, liposuction and breast augmentation are now common. I've heard stories of Indonesian women resurrecting their vagina in Singapore.

The question is what is driving this deep desire to stay beautiful?  Are we trying to look good because it makes us feel good? Sadly, for many Indonesian women, the desperate attempt to look gorgeous is driven by our fear of losing our men to the next young babe in her perky boobs that walks pass.

We tend to forget that beauty comes from within. It comes from being compassionate and loving.  It comes from having an interesting personality.

I am not advocating we go unkept and sloppy.  No one wants to see a woman with hair sticking out of her under-arms. What I am suggesting is to change our perspective in life. Looking good so as to keep a man is sad. We know some men are not worth keeping and we are better off without them. Looking good because it makes us feel confident about ourselves is a good start. Widen our perspective on life.  Read and travel.  Learn new skills. Contribute to society in any small ways. Meet new people.

Be happy with who we are. Be thankful for who we are.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Another week

Another week has slipped past. Stealing time on Friday morning to self-reflect before rushing off to work.

Nothing in particular to ponder over just simply enjoy letting my mind unwind.  I crave for time to decompress after so much stimulants at work and cherish my quiet moment.

Want to spend time with the kids this weekend. Plan to start teaching my 8 year old how to ride a bike. Recall the excitement of my eldest when she first learn to ride a 2-wheeler. I was so proud of her.

Life is about moment like this that never fail to make you smile and that you carry within your heart for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Fear, fear of failure
Stop us from trying

Fear, fear of failure
Stop us from believing

Fear, fear of failure
Stop us from giving

Fear, fear of failure
Stop us from living

For all that we fear
We are dead before it's near


Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Prada
Chloe, Chanel, Bottega
Bags, bags, bags
Consuming more bags than I ever need
Yet craving for the next bag that's in
My self-wortth clinging on the brand of the bag
My bags are curse of a life that is sad

Saturday, August 14, 2010


It took me falling over my face many times to finally accept all things happen for a reason.  I've since learned to look at bad things happening in my life as wake up calls.

Decided to heed the advice of Gretchen Rubin in her "Happiness Project" to prepare myself better so that I am more apt to deal with unexpected situations heading my way.  I've since started yoga to calm my mind. I've read books of great spiritual teachers like Ekhart Tolle in my quest to be more forgiving and accepting; both to myself and others. I'm learning to love myself and accept myself; my idiosyncrasy and all. And yes, I pray, not to any particular religion but to a greater God.

Will I still cry next time I fall. I bet I would. But I believe I will be strong enough to pick myself up, lick my wounds, dust off the dirt and move on without lugging any baggages. And I will be grateful for the experience that makes my life so colorful. And you bet, I will still have my silly smile.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Someone laments how he has always wanted to write but simply couldn't find time. I've heard many writers attribute their success to sheer discipline; putting aside time to write day after day.  It's about logging into the laptop everyday within an allocated time and typing away whatever inspiration that comes. As Ekhart Tolle shares, on some days you may have no more than a couple of sentences.

For me, writing is therapeutic. I have to confess I still lack the discipline to write on a daily basis. I write whenever something strikes my cord and I have to let my inner voice be heard. I write to be truthful to how I feel. I write because it's a safer way for me to express who I am without fear of being judged. When I write, I can safely discard my facade.

I aspire to write story that will hit the best-seller list and be courted to have movie made from my book.  I aspire to write books that will touch the heart and soul of millions around the world. For now however, I am contented to just type away my thoughts and feelings. If I can just make one person smile or feel better by my simple words, I am contented.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Woke up feeling restless. Trying to rationale why. Perhaps it's the anti-climax from weeks of hectic work schedule. Perhaps it's from lack of social life; been too tied up at work to catch up with friends.

Read somewhere that how you spend your day reflects how you spend your life. Time to reflect on my priorities and map my schedule accordingly.

Instead of feeling restless today, I ought to feel thankful I don't have anything planned out. The day is for me to fill. And I choose to paint it with love and joy.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Talk, talk, talk
That's all we do
Talk, talk, talk
I feel stalked
By all the talk
Let's stop the talk
Let's walk the walk
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Open Marriage

There's an article in today's Jakarta Post on open marriage in Jakarta.  This is triggered by the recent sex video scandal of two celebrities. The fact that the woman is married rocks Jakarta's double standard moral views.

Open marriage arrangement is said to be an increasing trend in cosmopolitan Jakarta. It allows married couple the choice to have sexual relationships with others while still staying married. Advocates claim this adds spice to the marriage and allows them to stay closer as a couple. This sounds like polygamy wrapped around a new twist.

Open marriage is a choice in life and with every choice comes consequences. If it takes having to attract another man sexually to makes us women feel good about ourselves, we've gone backward with women emancipation.

I am a far cry from being a marriage expert but I am sure most women saying yes to marriage hope for a intimate relationship built on love, trust and respect.  And I am skeptical open marriage arrangements will in anyway contribute to a sustainable committed marriage.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My weekend

On the weekend I am exhausted. I know compared to working moms in other parts of the world who hold a full-time job and no help at home, I shouldn't complain.  I am fortunate to be living in this part of the world where domestic helpers are affordable and available.  However I am still exhausted after working 10 to 11 hours and bracing at least two hours of traffic commuting to work five days a week.

All I want to do on the weekend is to take it easy.  It means a jog in the neighborhood, yoga, nice relaxing meals with the family, movie in the neighborhood cinema, long warm bath, lazing in bed over a book, writing on my blog and anything that doesn't require commuting and commitment.  It means no malls, arcades and any place crowded with overly eager parents trying to please their kids.  Sometimes I wonder if that makes me a bad mom for not packing the weekend with activities for the kids. But I would much rather we chill at home over books/movies, have meals together and just be with each other in one way or another instead of rushing through stuff to do.

I have become anti-social on the weekends, avoiding any big social commitments as I am least keen having to make small talk on the weekends.  I simply want to let down my hair, chuck that power suits and put on something comfortable, kick aside my killer heels and rest my feet on the flip-flops.

I do question if it is a social suicide when I choose to decline the invites. But I've learned that I have to first take care of myself before I can take care of my loved ones. For those who don't see eye-to-eye in how I choose to spend my weekends, I really don't care what you think. For those friends who are offended by my decline in social invites, perhaps we can compromise and meet on weeknight when I am available? It doesn't mean I don't care about you my friends, it simply means I am learning to love myself.

Looking good

A Indonesian socialite is in coma in a clinic in Thailand due to liposuction.  I've seen her pictures on Tatler magazine and she is not in anyway chubby.  The themes in Hollywood on women past 40's seem to be about women's neurotic fear of aging and desperate attempt to look good.

To be fair, it's not only the celebrities and socialite who desperately want to cling to their prime look. My friend who's a banker was sharing her horror of finding stretch mark on her thighs and her gravitating eye bags.  And yes, she did contemplate going under a quick fix to remove those extra bags.

I have on many occasions covet for a pair of firm (and well-endowed) ones to replace my sagging (note sagging and not exactly saggy).

It's the fear of pain and consequences of a surgery that stop me from running off to Singapore or Thailand for a quick fix.  But deep inside I question whether I will be happy after enhancing my looks or will I keep want more fixes to keep me happy. As George Lopez advocates, be who you are.  I am trying to find peace with how I look and the fact that I age just like everyone else does.  If it's something I can't avoid, is it worth losing sleepless nights and thousands of dollars?

That doesn't mean I won't make the best to slow down the aging process.  I'm still into night creams, eye creams, sun blocks, facial massages and all those nice stuff I pamper myself with.  I am also learning to treat my body better with ample rest, the right diet (with occasional strays) and regular exercise. I've found that yoga helps to keep me in shape and happy.  And we can't deny happiness is the best antidote to a youthful look.

So for all the women out there, stay happy and youthful.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Purpose of life

Read somewhere that purpose of life is up to us to determine. Instead of searching for meaning of life, we decide what we want from life. This is another revelation for me as I've been waiting to be enlightened on the meaning of life since I was in my teens.

Question now is what do I want from life?  I do know life is not all about work yet I find myself sucked into the highs and lows of my job.  I know life is about family, friends and loved ones yet I don't make enough time for them.

Let me start today by touching the heart of someone I love and bringing a smile to a stranger.

Maybe that is my purpose in life; a simple and humble act to bring kindness and love to those who cross my path.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Not sure if it's me going through a stage searching for meaning in life or there is now a lot of hype on search for happiness.  Is it the financial crisis forcing people to re-evaluate priorities or simply generation X-ers like me hitting mid-life?

Is happiness a feeling? Or can one choose to be happy? Someone once said you can be contented without being happy.  Is not being unhappy enough?

Still in search for the right formula...

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Lies and more lies
Can we ever not lie?
Are we brave enough to be honest
With who we are and what we want?

Lies and more lies
Easy way to cheat life
But do we want to lie through life
And not truly feel?

Lies and more lies

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It's wierd how you are woken by a big slap that snap you back to reality.

Suddenly my life is jolted and here I am dealing with a pang of emptiness and a desperate attempt to pick up the pieces.

Trying not too be melodramatic about this humbling experience. At times I struggle to find the strength to get on.

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The guru teacher said that key to happiness is contenment. Easy concept yet difficult to apply.
I will try to make a conscious effort to be contented with what I have, who I am and experiences that shaped me for who I am.
Will try to enjoy life's journey and take in all good and bad experiences with an attitude of surrender.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Why me

When bad things happen to us, we always ask "why me?". Never do we ask "why me?" When good things happen.
I believe all things happen for a reason. And it's for us to make the best of all the experiences we encounter.
We tend to magnify adverse situations when they are in the current state. In hindsight, many bad experiences don't seem so major.
I am now flowing through trying not to resist and hoping the river takes me to shore safely.
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Better person

Is the quest to be a better person a fruitless effort?

Do we have to hide in a monastery out of touch with the rest of the world to reach spiritual growth?

How do I learn to put aside my big fat ego and learn to to be a better person where my actions are driven by love?


Wrote about infidelity on Feb 16.

Yes, what I wrote made surviving infidelity sounds too easy.  Someone once told me he can forgive but cannot forget.  Can one truly forgive a spouse who has strayed? Can a relationship survive an affair?

The pain the second time or third time around is not in any way less than the first time you are betrayed.  Experience doesn't make it easier.

This time I hope to do what is right and move on with life whatever the outcome may be.  The vicious circle has to end. I choose to believe we can come out of adverse experiences better and stronger.


Acceptance.  An easy to understand notion yet difficult to apply.

Can we truly put aside our ego to accept the circumstances we are thrown into?

In times of adversity, we always turn to the divine power to guide us. I pray for strength and wisdom to do what is right.

Friday, June 4, 2010


I believe in love. I believe in my capacity to truly love and my willingness to be vulnerable and be loved.
Call me an idealist or naïve, I want to believe in the beauty and goodness of love.
I refuse to let set-backs tarnish my notion of love.
I believe true love exists to those who believe.
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Searching within myself to find whatever strength there is to help me through this period.
I know I am strong enough to ride through and come out a better person.
Refuse to shrivel and become bitter even though withdrawing seems the easiest mechanism now.

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It's past mid-night. Overwhelmed by feeling of insecurity. Don't like how I feel and how I behave when I am insecure; I am less nice.

I become this person self-indulged in my own self-imposed pain.

My mind is running amok; suffocating.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Another sleepless night in Jakarta

If I've to go through a major surgery or undergo the pain I feel now, I would opt for the former.

Waking up in cold sweat and haunted by thoughts I would rather not have.  I hate waking up in the middle of the night with heaviness descending on me.  The pain in my heart is suffocating.  If this is what it takes to feel, perhaps feeling numb is an easier option.

Distracted from my day-to-day functions and finding it extremely difficult to play the different roles expected. The morning sun pierces through my empty soul.

Sometimes, would like to just sleep through and not deal with the pain.  If only I can sleep.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Quote from Deepak Chopra "I experience true freedom when I accept, understand, and move on from the conditioning of the past." Read somewhere unconditional love does not mean unconditional acceptance. Very confused at this stage.  All I know is I have to stop blaming myself and others for whatever happened in the past. I need to be patient knowing time will heal.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ignorance is bliss

My aunt used to tell me ignorance is bliss. I found that notion hard to digest. Women my generation are well-educated, smart and independent and I didn't buy into the idea of having to act stupid and behave domesticated to be happy (at least that was what I thought she meant).

Now I am finally understanding what that means. I've gotten it all wrong all these time. Ignorance doesn't mean stupidity. I think it means letting go of things that are beyond your control, learning to overlook things you can't change, accepting flaws of people around you.

And I now embrace ignorance is bliss.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Me, coffee and cafe

I love coffee; the aroma, the taste and the after taste.

Home-made Api kopi tubruk served strong and hot is enough to kick-start my morning. When I have coffee outside, the ambiance is as important as the quality of the coffee. Nothing annoys me more than having the aroma of my coffee polluted by the smokey environment. A cozy place is my preference. That translates to nothing glamorous, loud and flashy. These criteria eliminate many "coffee places" in Jakarta which are located in crowded malls where people hang out to see and be seen.

Coffee helps me unwind (wierd as it may sound). I like to just daze and unwind over my coffee either browsing through magazines and newspaper or scribbling on my journal. The new addition to my cafe habit is writing my 2 cents worth on Twitter.

My new favorite in Jakarta is Antipodean in Kemang and in Singapore I've found a great place along the river away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Kith.

Hope you like them as much as I do.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I've visited Medan with my parents ten years ago. Went for a rickshaw ride to Kampung Keling which roughly translates to Little India. Medan is probably one of the few places in Indonesia with a Tamil temple frequented by the Indian devotees whose ancestors have migrated to Sumatera years ago. The Indian influence is very much felt with stores selling saris and streets selling Indian food with a hint of Chinese or Javanese taste.

This recent visit brings me to a Medan no different from other major cities in Indonesia. Like most cities in Indonesia, Medan is chasing the trend of modernization. Malls sprawl throughout the city, not to mention Hypermart and Carrefour replacing traditional wet markets.  Hotels ranging from five-star name like Marriott to local chains are fully booked by business travelers.

Despite all, Medan still retains its local charm. Jalan Semarang is the local food street. The street is full of kopi tiam (which translates to coffee shop) each selling different kind of local food; dumpling noodle, prawn noodle, fried kwe tiau, roti canai with mutton curry, lap ciong. Not to mention all sorts of local cakes and snacks.  Families enjoying their dinners in the no-frill and basic kopi tiam with ceiling fans chasing off the heat. The absence of air con does not deter the locals from congregating, filling the air with chatters.

Jalan Kesawan has a different vibe.  This was the most affluent and trendiest street decades ago. Now the only prominent buildings are the Tjong A Fei mansion and Tip Top cafe.  The mansion occupies an area of 6,000 m2 and used to house the richest man in Sumatera.  It's a shame this beautiful architecture is overlooked and not preserved as the highlight of the city.  Although the mansion is not exactly well-kept, it is definitely better mantained than most museums in Indonesia. For the price of Rp35,000 (less than $3.50) per person, you get a guided tour.  The 3 living rooms each decorated in Chinese, European and Malay style epitomize the wealth of the family.  The collection of photos ranging back to the Dutch era is worth a look.

Tip Top used to be frequented by only the wealthiest in the city.  Now, it comes across as a bit run-down with its rattan chairs.  The ice cream is not what I would consider the best but the place is full of history. The waiters wear white uniforms that reflect the colonial period. It is still a place worth visit in Medan.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Death and Alive

When I am busy and exhausted (which tend to be related), I become a zombie. I have no recollection of any events that occur outside work.  No idea of how I get to work (too busy typing over my blackberry) and how I get home (usually end up sleeping in the car after a long day).  I eat at my desk and can't be bothered making lunch appointments; socializing becomes a chore. I lost track of what I eat, chomping down four cookies in one go. I become forgetful; overlooking my kid's doctor appointment.  I don't make an effort to be nice to people. I snap easily. 

As I pack for my business trip for tomorrow, the irrational fear of flying strikes me again. I guess I fear death for the reason death is unknown and also because of many unfulfilled dreams; I want see my kids grow up, write a novel (which I've not even started), see places, retire by the beach, reunite with old friends  I've neglected, continue painting, learn to take good photographs, may be teach.

Why does it take death to make me reflect on my life? I guess often I'm numbed by the daily routine and it takes the fear of death to bring me alive.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Louboutin shoes

Will you spend thousand of dollars to buy a pair of shoes? I always thought they are for socialites with unlimited cash to splurge. Apparently not.  I know colleagues who own Christian Louboutin shoes. For those who do not know what these are, they are shoes worn in Sex and the City with the signature red soles.

I used to find thrills from owning the latest bag or shoes.  Now, the thrill has worn off.  For the amount of money spend on shoes, I would rather take the kids on vacation.  Yes, the price of a pair of shoes is enough to take the family for a weekend get-away.  

My happiest moments are those spent on vacation; either nearby city or exotic locations, I love them all.  And I am going to be true to myself without trying to impress anyone.

Goodbye Louboutin and hello to my flip-flop and the next destination.  

"Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone." - Dalai Lama

Friday, April 16, 2010


My last blog was a week ago. I had wanted to made it a habit of writing everyday, read some where it takes 30 days to build a habit, but lapsed in my follow-through anyway.

Last week was hectic. So much happening at work with visitors, official dinners and conferences. Other priorities got shoved aside. Realized when I don't get a balance, I tend to snap. Felt frustrated and on many occasions were not so nice. I reacted when I didn't have to. Said certain things that were better off unsaid. Was not proud of myself in hind-sight.

Decided to take it easy today.  Refused to let the guilt hold me back from leaving the office early today.  Need to catch up on rest I've been so sleep deprived.  Want to spend some quality with the kids and look forward to my yoga lesson tomorrow.

There is more to life than work and how we spend our time is a clear reflection of our priorities. Life is all about balance.

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony" 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Be present

I find it difficult to meditate. Even during 90 minutes of bikram yoga, my mind drifts away. It takes effort to tame the wandering mind and for me it's an impossible mission for now. There was nothing in particular I had in mind, just random of thoughts.

When I am overwhelmed at work, I neglect my surrounding. Nothing else matters other than accomplishing what I have to do and I've a bad habit of multi-tasking with phone calls, email and thinking about the next task. I ignore friends and family.

I am learning to take it slow, to do one thing at a time and not to worry about what is to happen.
It's a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I am not going to spoil my mood complaining about last week which was hectic and the coming week of packed schedule. Instead, I am thankful for this day to spend with the kids. I will just enjoy the moment and feel the warm breeze on my face.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010


I just want to be happy.  Thought I wanted to be rich but now I realize I won't be happy selling my soul for material wealth.  Back then, I thought I will be happy if and when I am rich.

Our family has a comfortable lifestyle and I really have nothing to complain about. I used to think buying luxury brands will make me happy. It didn't. The joy of flaunting my branded bag is short-lived.

So what will make me happy?  Starting to randomly list down things that I am most happy doing; morning walk, going to the beach, traveling to new places, reading a great book, meeting good friends over coffee, helping others in one way or another, accomplishing at work, writing on my tweeter/blog, watching funny love movie, playing with our dog, going for bikram yoga classes, learning new skill, trying out new restaurants.

Well, I'm learning to be true to myself.  I will not pretend to be someone I'm not by doing things I'm not happy with.  Will I still go to a club and dance my way through the night, may be every once in a while when I feel like it. But I will no longer go just so others can think I am cool.

This is who I am and I am happy with who I am.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


One of my new year resolutions is to spend more time with the kids and celebrate every special occasions with them. Basically to pass on some family traditions.

On Sunday, it suddenly hit me I have not arranged for any Easter celebration when my husband asked what I was planning to do with the kids. Contemplated whether I want to pay exorbitant amount for Easter brunch in most five-start hotels which include kid activities like egg hunt. Since I don't particularly enjoy crowded places and to keep up with my other resolution which is to be frugal, I decided to skip the hotels.

Instead, we went for brunch in a nice casual restaurant, Koi, at Kemang.  The kids get away with ordering what they love which for my daughter means a huge waffle loaded with ice-cream topped with berry sauce for lunch.  We agreed "no tech" which means no phone, blackberry and ipod at brunch. Instead we talked, and to my surprise my daughter knows more about Easter than I do.  We chit-chatted and browsed through magazines together. Nothing fancy yet an extremely enjoyable lunch.

We then ended Easter afternoon with chocolate hunt at home where I hid Ferrero Rocher chocolates (most Easter chocolates were sold out by then) and the kids had fun searching through the house for the chocolates with our puppy running after them equally excited by the commotion the kids created.

I've decided that we'll make brunch and chocolate hunt the Easter tradition for our family, simple activities we all enjoy and will remember.  Also, will start the tradition of having Sunday as "no tech" day.  Sunday is a day we bond as a family.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Curious eyes of a traveller

So often, we take for granted the city we live in.  I walk around, or should I say get driven around Jakarta partially blind.  I whip out my blackberry, work on my lap-top, read or sleep the moment I get into the car.

It wasn't until my last visit to Hanoi I reached a revelation.  After umpteenth visits to Hanoi, I am starting to  miss seeing the beauty of the city.  I used to be intrigued by sights of flower ladies peddling basket of flowers, street side cafes serving traditional food where people sit in short stools, the beauty of the lakes and ancient tube-houses.  I was starting to walk around Hanoi like I've seen it all and know it all.  It was a shame to take such a beautiful city for granted.

Likewise for Jakarta, it has its charm once you peel through its irony of chaotic and glitzy layers.  Once you step outside the malls and walk into the neighborhoods, it's common to see jamu ladies carrying bottles of traditional herbal medicine in baskets tied to their slender back by a sarong cloth, bakso vendors peddling pots of steaming beef balls served over rice noodles, vegetable vendors making their rounds with push-carts filled with fresh vegetables and spices and the warungs around every corner.

Perhaps it is the constant search for a topic to write that makes me more alert to my surrounding. Perhaps it is yoga that teaches me to be present. I am more aware and appreciative of my surrounding, I now see with the curious eyes of a traveller.    

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bikram yoga teacher training

Jen, our teacher was sharing her experience of the Bikram teacher training, after class today.  If 90 min in class sounds tough, two sessions a day in addition to the lectures for five days a week plus one class on Saturday for nine weeks seem impossible.  Apparently, more than 300 people took the last teacher training in Las Vegas with less than 10 drop-outs.  A woman who is diagnosed with cancer completed the training. That is what I call commitment.

Amateurs like us have a choice whether we want to go for class.  In the teacher training, it is no longer a choice as you are expected to walk into class whether you feel like it or not.  As Jen puts it "you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable ".  It is about dedication and believing you can do it.

So often, we give up when we face adversity in life.  We seek the easy way out, we quit.  One valuable lesson I learn today is when the going gets tough, we just have to grit our teeth and continue.  What doesn't break us makes us stronger.  And yes, we are stronger than we think.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

When life hands you lemon, make lemonade

A friend was laid off from her job.  She was an aggressive treasury sales in an international bank and was one of the unlucky ones who was retrenched during the financial crisis 2 years ago. Now she runs her own bakery from home, whipping out delicious cakes and cookies.  We didn't know she has such talent and passion when she was hassling for sexy derivative deals then.  I am sure she would not have done her bakery whole-heartedly if she is still climbing the corporate rat race.  We corporate rats are so burnt out by the end of the day we having no spark left to fuel our passion.

Things happen for a reason. We may not understand why certain things happen. Our 1st reaction is always "why me'. As long as we can coast through life's turbulence with faith that "this too shall pass", we will arrive at the shore.  The destination may not be what we had planned for, but life never fail to surprise us.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My morning prayer

Thank you for the sun that loves us all
Thank you for the air we breath
Thank you for the water we drink
Thank you for the food we eat
And thank you for the people who touch our lives today
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I recalled the article I wrote that got published in the local newspaper when I was in primary school.  It was no more than a simple essay with 100 words but I recalled how pleased I was seeing my name in print. That was the only thing I've written that got published.  Perhaps that was the start of my desire to write. I've since then written letters and sent postcards to friends during school breaks.  However, aside from papers I need to write to pass my classes, I've not been writing in college.

A few years ago, I felt the strong urge to write.  Didn't start as I didn't know what to write.  I wasn't sure what I've to say is interesting enough for anyone to want to read. I am not sure I can come close to the talent of great writers I admire who spin beautiful words and captivating stories.

Reading Junot Diaz's experience is comforting and encouraging.  If there's really something I enjoy doing, I like to write.  I've started a few paragraphs on several stories which are filed in my folder waiting to be brought out, dusted and continued at some point.  For now, I still don't know what I want to write about. Even though blogging is not considered serious writing, for me it's my canvas where I let my thoughts and feelings flow. I will continue to scribble on anything and everything.  Do I care if no one reads?  Not anymore as long as I am happy writing.  For me, it's therapeutic.

Monday, March 29, 2010


How many of our choices in life are driven by fear? Not real fear but irrational fear. A friend of mine who's pregnant spent whole Sunday bugging her husband what he would do if she is to pass away from her upcoming c-section. She's a healthy woman with no reason to be concerned.  For her, she blamed it on her hormonal change and laughed it off the next day.  For many of us, we cannot explain the fear.  When it hit us, we are paralyzed. Another friend of mine did not want to put up her hand for a bigger role at work for fear she will not perform even though she is the most competent candidate for that position.

I've had many instances in life where I let fear take the rein. In hindsight, many of the fears are irrational.  It's similar to thinking a rope is a snake and refusing to believe it's a harmless rope instead choosing to see a snake in the rope.

According to Swami Chidanand Saraswati in his book Drops of Nectar, "The root cause of fear is distrust.  We have been betrayed, injured an abused. We decide the world cannot be trusted".  How do we then learn not to live in fear?  He advises that "a calm, serene, wise understanding of the situation, coupled with undying faith, is what is needed.".  After all, "no tragedy has ever been prevented by fear".

The Serenity Prayer says it all,
"God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."  

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hanoi - West Lake, Tay Ho district

I've walked along West Lake at Tay Ho district two years ago. There was not much of a path as the road was still muddy. There's now a proper road and pavement. A couple of cafes have opened up by the lake.

It was blissful enjoying the view of the lake and the mix of old tube-houses and newly renovated chic architecture. I strayed from the alleys I was familiar with. Following the winding road which I had no idea where it was heading, I found a temple that is vibrant with locals offering their prayers. There are stalls selling offerings which range from local cakes (rice cakes, green bean cakes, something wrapped banana leaf), paper money, flowers, rice, cigarettes and even beer (yes, the locals offer cans of beer to the gods). The fragrance of joss sticks filled the air along with the chatters of the devotees.

I was rather thrilled to find the temple, beautiful statues sitting in carved wooden houses with a panaromic view of the lake. This is exactly what I love about travel, you discover something new when you least expect it.

I guess it's the same in life, as you follow the windng road, it helps to keep an open mind for you don't know what lies ahead.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

4 Things I learn when the airline left my luggage behind

Singapore Airlines left my luggage in Singapore. Here I am in Hanoi with no luggage and nothing on me except what I am wearing. I had to take a deep breathe when the guy at Noi Bai airport explained to me the earliest they can send the luggage is the next day. Had to search my mind through all the mantras to keep myself calm.  Surprisingly, I am less upset than I would have been.  Think all the yoga is finally seeping into my life.

Anyway, here are several things I learn:

1. Attitude is more important than attires

I've been wearing the same pairs of jeans and black cotton shirt the whole day.  And yes, even though black is a versatile color that goes for day and night, I didn't have the right attire for dinner. However, I refuse to let myself feel bad and spoil the fun just because I don't have a nice dress to wear for dinner.

A nice smile is more beautiful than a frowning face drape over the most expensive dress

2. Things don't make me happy

I actually need very little to get by considering I'm perfectly happy with same pair of jeans, shirt and walking shoes as I was so busy soaking in the ambience of the new place.  I am happier traveling than buying the next Bottega bag.  It's the experience of my travel that I most cherish and last longest in my memory than all my past shopping spree.

Need to understand what truly makes us happy otherwise we end up failing to quench our search with the wrong substitutes

3. Ego....again

I care more about what people think than I truly admit. In my own city, I am rather conscious with what I wear and how I am perceived.  In a foreign city, I have no such concerns and hence I am happier. Yes, it's always my ego driving a lot of my behaviors.

I am happier when I can let go of my facade and be who I am.  

4. Don't take things for granted

I was partially blind when I have to take off my contact lens after the whole day. Only then, it occurred to me to give thanks to the men who invented spectacles.  Rubber band for hair, trivial yet useful accessory to tie up messy hair for instant tidy look.

Don't thank things for granted, be grateful for simple things in life

Who would expect valuable lessons from such a simple experience.  But I am glad when I finally get my luggage, time to change into clean clothes.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fraser Suites

In Hanoi for a short break. I've grown fond of this city since visiting it a couple of times annually for the past 2 years.

Staying at the Fraser Suites by Xuan Dieu Street. The apartment faces the Wast Lake and has the most gorgeous view transforming itself depending on the time of the day. The lake now appears to be engulfed by a thin grey fog.  A wooden boat is floating calming in the lake. Across the lake, one can witness Hanoi's development through the sprawl of skyscrapers. Directly next to Fraser Suites are neighborhoods of tube houses. As one walks by these houses, you're bound to come across vendors selling traditional vietnamese food. My favorite is the bun cha next to the Syrena mall on Xuan Dieu Street. Bun cha is pork grilled in charcoal served with rice noodle which you dipped into the sauce which is light, sweet and tangy.

Hanoi is one of those few cities that retain its charm amidst the development. Will keep posting on Hanoi during my stay.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Instant Gratification

Nowadays, everything has to be instant; instant noodle, instant coffee, instant soup, even instant rice. We are all running short of time and patience.  

I've started bikram yoga a year ago. The main motivation then was to find peace within myself.  I was struggling in my career and was having trouble relaxing.  Gym and my running couldn't give me the "escape" I was yearning for.  Walked into my 1st bikram yoga class not knowing what to expect. If I had known I would be sweating, panting and suffocating for 90 minutes in a class with 39 degrees heat, I might not have signed up for the class.  I was looking for meditation to calm my mind and I got more than that.

Getting critical of myself recently with voices in my head telling me that I'm not making progress even though I've been doing yoga for a year.  I compare myself to the ladies next to me in class and they look slimmer and fitter than me.  My tummy is visibly flabby after 2 kids and my youngest is already eight years old! I still can't do all the postures in perfection. There are days I can't even manage the basic ones.

Then I realize I am falling into the trap of expecting instant gratification.  Many of the yogis have been doing yoga for years and many come almost daily whereas I can only manage the weekend classes.  Although I've not lost weight, I feel healthier. I have better postures; fewer backaches and shoulder aches.  I sleep better and I learn to breathe better.  I used to have shorter breaths and tend to hold my breath when I am stressed out.  Now I am more conscious of my breaths and I am more aware of how my body reacts to stressful situations.  I wake up more refreshed after sleeping through the night like a baby.

Somethings changed inside me since I started yoga.  I suppose as I learn to let go in class, I am learning to let go in life.  As I learn to relax in class with each postures, I am learning to relax in life.  As I learn to focus in class, I am learning to stay more focused in every moment of life.  I learn to accept that although I don't have the perfect posture, as long I give my best effort, I deserve to pat myself on the back.  In life, I learn to be kind and forgiving to myself.

Next time in class, I will smile at myself in the mirror and tell myself that it all takes time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


It made me chuckle whenever we complain in the locker about how unbearably hot the class was.  We willingly sign up and brace Jakarta traffic to come to class knowing that we would be doing yoga for 90 minutes in a heated room.  Yet, we still find most classes too hot.  We are like Goldilocks, the temperature never quite suit our liking.

Benchmark of a "good" a class is the frequency the teacher turns on the fan, opens the window and the best treat of course is when she opens the door letting in a gush of cool air which feels heavenly.

Along with one of the postures today, the teacher said "don't anticipate, be present".  This is so true.  We often anticipate the teacher opening the door and and when she doesn't, we feel frustrated.  In addition to the real heat in the room, I swore I could feel my heart racing when she walked to door, held on the door-knob yet did not open the door!

We often forget that there is more to yoga than just losing weight (though the losing weight part is great).   It's about listening to our teacher, listening to our body.  It's about staying focused and meditating.  It's about union of the mind and body.

Let's enjoy the heat, let go, be present and breathe.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Been searching for my passion.  Not sure if I'm the very few who are deaf to my calling.  I like reading, I like traveling, I like yoga but none of which creates enough urge for me to make it my life.  

There are friends I know who are passionate about golf and sacrifice weekends at the golf course, or those who love salsa enough to become full-time instructor.

It's not that I've not tried.  I took painting class for a few months, tried salsa and practised golf.  Like them enough to fill the gap in my spare moments but not enough to make sacrifices in time.

While I wait for my hidden talent to surface and the calling of my passion, I'll just continue what I like doing; browsing the bookstore for a good book that suits my mood, practising yoga on the weekends, traveling whenever I can afford to and writing on my blog.  

I'll still play golf, dance salsa and paint, but only when my mood suits it.  No more desperate search for my passion but listening to my heart on what I truly enjoy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My big fat ugly ego

Woke up and checked my office bb (not a smart thing to do 1st thing in the morning).  Saw a chain of email I was supposed to be included which the sender had left me out until another colleague of mine forwarded it to me.

I got pretty agitated.  How dare the sender not include me?  Doesn't he realize I am important and he need to cc me?  I could feel my shoulders tensing and shortness of breath.  I am sure if I looked at myself in the mirror, my face would be frowning.

Then it hit me it's my big fat ugly ego at work.  The person could have just simply overlooked to include me. Regardless of why the person did what he did, there's no reason for me to over-react.  Yes, as much I hate to admit, I was over-reacting and in hind sight I probably have over-reacted on many other occasions.

I refuse to let my mind play trick on me analyzing why the person did what he did.  I am going to let go.  As they say "don't sweat the small stuff". I am just learning to do that with baby step at a time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blackberry in Indonesia

In Indonesia, blackberry is extremely popular.  What started as a device for work is now a social tool.  I first noticed every mom in my kids' school fiddling with their blackberry during school performance.   These ladies can't wait to flip out their latest blackberry with the fanciest cover.  Then my 11 year-old insisted in having one 'cos all her friends have one.   The sign that it has infiltrated our society is when my driver wanted to borrow money to buy one.  

Indonesians are very sociable.  We love to chat.  The telecom operators are laughing their way to the bank with the amount of sms that we sent as a nation.  And now blackberry or "bb" as it is called, has become the pinnacle of communication.  First, it is cheaper than sending sms.  It has the added benefit of keeping track of the chat, having conference chat and now the ever popular chat groups.  It is easy to send pics through bb, so easy that my male friend of mine who's married accidentally sent me pics of a scantily dressed woman.  And of cos, it allows access to facebook which is another new addiction of our nation.

I have no issues with people updating their status every split second on FB and displaying their raw emotions to their "friends".  I actually think it is healthy to to express your emotions.  FB status range from "I'm so happy", "I've been dumped" to inspirational quotes, traffic updates, restaurant reviews and practically anything we feel like saying or asking.   It's the misuse of bb that annoy me.  People send spam messages on bb and bb chat groups.  I now have to keep my bb messanger profile silent to keep my sanity.

Bb should be used for sharing useful and important information.  Send your jokes directly to the person who enjoy them (you'll know who they are as they are the ones who respond with"hahaha") instead of blasting to everyone.  And not everyone wants a dose of your inspirational quote daily.  Please arrange your golf game directly with the few persons who are going (use the conference feature) instead of blasting to the 20 people in the group.

Twitter has not really caught on in Indonesia yet.  It is still popular only among the teenagers.  I encourage my friends to please get on Twitter if FB is not ample to ease your crave for networking.    With Twitter, you can then share your thoughts, joke, and anything you feel like sharing.  It is accessible on bb.  And yes, I'll look at your Twitter update when I feel like it.   But please don't clog my bb.

More thoughts on beauty

Can't resist sharing what I just read.  Pigeon dropping or bull semen for your hair, snake venom to rub on your face for botox effect, nightingale poop on your face and the list goes on.

I myself have spent days contemplating whether to go for "natural" hena color or to go natural with streaks of grey.   Shall I look wise with some grey (which helps to appear senior at my work place but I certainly do not want to look older than my age!)?  Or shall I try to look younger by hiding my grey?

Recently spent a couple of hundreds on a jar of La Mer which I used very sparingly.  Not sure if the cream does its trick but my face seems smoother the next morning.  Perhaps with the money I spent, I want to believe it works.  I'm not a beauty snob, have also resorted to using olive oil on my hair to skim on the saloon treatment (given I've overspent on that jar of cream).

Gotta run, have made an appointment for my hena colour.  I believe beauty comes from within but any help to look beautiful is helpful (skip the radical semen, poop and venom treatment).

"I like who I am as a person. And because I believe that there's much more to me than my looks, other people believe it too."
—Felicia P. Fields

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I am consumptive. I don't consider myself to be a shopaholics in comparison to other women I know. But I do like to shop. Not excessively but shopping does cheer me up.

Have stopped shopping for branded stuff unless I really need the bag/shoes for work. But once in a blue moon, I can't resist the temptation for a Prada bag.

Looked at my closet full with clothes and bags. Don't need that much clothes, bags, shoes and stuff. Time to start spring cleaning and let go of old stuff I've not worn/used for years and which I probably won't think of wearing/using again. In the mean time, trying my best to cut down on shopping.

I still love to shop. Just that I now do window shopping more (and less of actual buys) and purchase more consciously.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Yoga and Change

It's been a year since I started Bikram Yoga. There are some postures I can now do that I didn't even dare attempt then. Back-bend for one gave me so much fear when I started, I convinced myself I couldn't do it. On days I was brave enough to go half-way, it triggered intense sensation of nausea. Now, back-bend is one of my favorite postures. I love how relaxing my back feels afterwards.

My body reacts differently to the 26 postures on different days. There are certain days even the simplest postures feel extremely tough. I've now learn to accept that each class is different. As long as I try my best in each posture, I do not have to beat up myself for not having the perfect posture. Instead of resisting, I have learned to accept the changes my body and mind go through.

Each class is different due to the energy generated from the students and teacher. It's easy to get accustomed a particular teacher but we improve better under several teachers who fine-tune us differently. And each teacher with his/her personality brings different energy to the class.

Yoga teaches me to accept change and flow along like a river instead of fighting something which is inevitable. As Confucius said "They must constant change, who would be constant in happiness and wisdom".

Doing something fun

Wanted to do something fun.  Yet, can't think of anything that fun I really want to do.

I am quite happy with simple life of yoga, reading and chilling out with the kids after work.  Enjoy nice lunch once in a while with a few girlfriends to laugh over silly jokes and share heartfelt concerns.  Like to keep my weekend non-commital with as few engagements as possible.  For me, a great weekend starts with yoga, lunches with parents and sister, more reading, writing and self-reflection.  Weekend highlight for the kids is trip to the bookstore and grocery shopping (where they get to buy snacks) with occasional movies.  Even just sitting at the driving range watching my son practice his golf on Sunday evening is something I enjoy.

I love to travel.  Aside from my simple life, perhaps this is one highlight that can be considered fun.  Love seeing new places, learning new culture, trying new food, soaking up the local ambiance.  Look forward to taking the kids to Hanoi in spring break; taking the rickshaw around Old Quarter, coffee at the French Quarter, strolling along the lake, ice cream at Metropole.

So as you see, attempt to have fun can be quite frustrating.  I've given up trying too hard to have fun.  As long I enjoy what I am doing, I'm doing fine.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Computer literate mom

My kids’ school has organized a class educating mothers on internet which I applaud.  I think it is extremely useful for mothers to keep up with internet and the various social networking sites; Facebook, Twitter, My Space etc. 

The main reason we need to be adequately computer literate is to keep up with our children’s activities and social circle.  Without understanding how the internet works, we cannot identify the risks and explain them to our kids.  We cannot protect our kids from any potential danger that lurks in cyber space.   We’ve heard recent stories of teenagers being abducted by strangers they meet through Facebook.  Does it mean we stop our kids from accessing Facebook? 

I don’t see how we can stop our kids from accessing the internet given how much it has infiltrated into our society and affect how we behave.  When I ask my kids where they learn about the latest news, response is “the internet”.  When they have homework they don’t have answers ranging from doing a research on Russia to explaining what is a typhoon, they log on the internet. 

What we can do as mother is to explain to our kids the risks and lay certain ground rules while ensuring we have the proper parent control tools in place.  It helps to reiterate the ground rules which should include not chatting to strangers on the cyber world, to keep their social networking profile “private” and not revealing private information to strangers.  It is most important to have the computer in an open area such as the living room. 

Despite the risks that the internet may pose, it is a great communication tool and help us better understand our kids.  Want to know how your kids’ day is, check their Facebook status and Twitter.  Likewise if you want to know what is the common topic among your kids and their friends, Facebook and Twitter offer great insights. 

Let’s all get connected.  Gotta go check my Twitter now…

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Female Boss vs Male Boss

My colleague and I had lunch with a couple young trainees.  These are the future leaders of the bank.  They are smart, articulate and many had been educated overseas.  Someone raised an interesting question asking if they prefer female or male bosses.  Almost all the young ladies put up their hand in preference for a male boss.  Reasons for avoiding a female boss ranges from emotional instability (which I can swear apply to both genders and I still have scars from my irrational male bosses in the past) to nit-picking.

I feel that female bosses have been unfairly portrayed as Miranda Priestly in "The Devil wears Prada".   When a woman is aggressive and ambitious, she is a bitch.  When she's straightforward, she's either blunt or rude.  When she displays emotion at work, she's irrational.  When she doesn't display emotion, she's cold-blooded.   When a man is aggressive and ambitious, he's simply aggressive and ambitious.  When he's straightforward, he's honest.  When he displays emotion at work, he's in touched with his feeling.  When he doesn't display emotion at work, he's reserved.

If the young women coming up the corporate ladder think gender bias is an issue of the past generation, think again.  You've just displayed the greatest bias by putting up your hands.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Diversity at work

Diversity spans across gender.  Being a career woman and a working mom, I would however like to share my observation on this topic close to my heart.  In Asia, many industries are relatively dominated by men and hence drive a macho culture within the organization.  Senior management networked over drinks and golfs where women are inclined not to join.  Women in senior management position struggle to be part of the pact.  

The absence of back-slapping camaraderie may result in women being side-lined in important decisions and promotion.  Most women I speak to feel they have to work harder to be where they are.  And there are enough studies to show women make less than their peer holding the same positions.    The challenge for women is whether to conform to the macho culture and start acting tough; playing by the boy's rules or risk letting our femininity discount our capability?  

With half of the world's population women and with more women graduating college, we cannot afford to ignore this talent pool.  As we try to build a sustainable business, we need to tap and retain the women in the work force.  Women tend to bring in a different approach to management.  It will benefit organizations to embrace the difference.   

I am an ardent believer that everyone should be credited for their merits. Women want to be promoted because we deserve it and not because of diversity.  And I've seen enough examples of women compensate for the lack of social networking within their organizations by working harder. 

How can an organization attract and retain female employees?  For a start, senior management of the organization has to walk the walk.  Diversity cannot simply be a marketing gimmick we flaunt.  It takes a cultural change to learn to accept and respect the female counter-parts at work.  It means sexiest jokes are no longer acceptable, networking has to be more inclusive and more conscious decisions on changes to be made.  It means supporting our female employees through their different stages in life.  Many women leave the work force because they are frowned upon for ensuring their family especially young kids are adequately taken care for without compromising on their work.

Organizations with the the right frame-work to support women through their different stages in life help attract and retain female employees.  A nursing room, flexible working hour (this may not be suitable for all jobs), and work from home (which can be most helpful in most traffic congested cities in Asia) are examples of some initiatives already implemented by several organizations.  

Some skeptics question whether all these are good for business.  I've seen lower turn-over at organization that makes serious effort on diversity.  I rest my case and long hail to some of the organizations in Indonesia I personally know which are advocates of diversity; Unilever and Standard Chartered Bank.  May the others learn form the best in class.