Sunday, September 12, 2010

The times.... the times....

In search for a sweet looking young lady's photo for my book cover, my publisher asked that I send in photos when I was 13 years old, or younger. 

Why 13, because I donated part of my liver to a 13-year-old girl and when I first pledged my organs - that was also when I was 13 years old. A coincidence. 

But then as a tomboy at that time, most of those 13-year-old photos are all in uniforms (St. John Ambulance uniform to be exact) and marching or doing something actively boyish. The vivacity during childhood. The times.... the times... 

Couldn't find sweeter photos to go with... and these are all photos when I was older

The younger ones with full portrait or even NAKED! and of course full head shots too but seldom see full head shots when I am elder

Finally a few head shot photos... none sweeter than the current selected photo for the cover, the one on the top right

We contemplated a few in St. John uniforms, too but then I do not want to be finger-pointed to say I "use" or "misuse" St. John for fame... as they have accused me of doing so... forget the uniforms, I told the publisher and of course, I have since quit from all St. John's too. The spirit is in the hearts, not in the uniform or ranking or the participation in it... Service for Mankind

Still looking for full head shots but not good enough..... 

And self portrait perhaps.... what was I doing with that tree? Bollywood.... ? And the serene meditating photo... not good enough as it was zoomed out somewhat... 

It was when my friend, Axiao wrote about the 18 vs 30 (age) that I reflected back too....

18 or younger..... you will only see me in dress in school - the school pinafore yeah! Always in T-shirts - these were passed down from my elder cousin to the younger cousin and then to me... we can pass on for 3 generations but clothes these days and machine washed could merely be worn within one generation or so... 

The love for marching and foot drills after watching the many Merdeka parades, awed by the standing guards for the lifetime of the parade.... We really did stood for St. John Ambulance annual parade as well, the longest was during the trouping of the Perak St John colours! A whooping 2.5hours!.. and loving and imitating most closely the commands of armies at that time, one cannot forget my voice that trembled the whole school! (ok my school is small)
Squaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaddddddd!! S'Dia! Dari kiriiiiiiiiiiiiii Cepat j'lan!! and the troupe echoed kiri, kiri, kiri kanan kiri.... kri, kri, kri knan kri... and always remember that most difficult line of command.... Dari kiri, di sebelah kiri, jadikan skuaddd... dan berhenti (until now, I have no idea how it is to be the best in command) and soon when I left school, that difficult line was scrapped from the format of foot drills...

Remembering also a time when I shouted the commands as practise for competitions.... two traffic policemen passed by the school. They were looking at us, my friend trembled to say "You are doomed, Hoong Ling... the police is looking at you.." and they passed the school gates and my friend's relief was but a few seconds and the police took a U-turn, turned into the gates, coming towards us and stopped the engine of their masculine-look, white motrobikes, just about 5 feet away... stared at me for a good few seconds while my friend at my side kept trembling non-stop fearing of .... (dunno what!)... "Apa buat?" the police asked and I said "Latihan - training for marching"... and the police said, "You punya suara bagus ah...", started the engines again and rode off...

The times.... the times.....

And oh yes, out of popularity though NEVER ever played a sport in school (having strict and disciplinarian aunt forbade, and St. John was my only active activity in school), was elected the House Leader - green house, if I am not mistaken. And strange enough, the closest of my friends, then SIX of us... we were all scattered in the 4 different houses; and 4 of us among the six were house leaders. We will have roti canai on Saturday mornings and asked each other, "Hey, how is your house doing?" 

Perhaps badminton was the only sport I am OK at... and I will never forget how Wai Kheng, a close friend smashes the shuttle and the racket fell right on my head when I played double with her... the phobia stayed until now!

The times.... the times.....

First with the bicycle... riding to school only on Saturdays - my aunt was so afraid that I will be in trouble and of course the bruises and wounds on arms and legs due to accidents... Also remembered a time when I was a mere passenger on a friend's bicyle, he was riding so fast and I was so afraid that I jumped off the bike... and of course elbows, knees and heels all wounded - a week of torment. 

And then motorcycle - the ecstasy of getting the driving license... and accidents, too! Who can escape...? But then, it is worth admiration that I have never cause accidents to anyone since first driving a car. 

The times... the times....

And seeing my friends all representing the school, the district, the state in many sports - hockey, ping pong, tennis, badminton and athletics... I wondered what will I be representing the school for... St. John competitions in the state but wasn't really much welcomed - the all-girl school was not fond of the tomboy marching away with no trophies excepting the foot drills 3rd prize in the state (our team has less interest in home nursing and failed miserably at the competitions). And it was my friends' inspirations which made me vowed to one day represent the country and years after that dream, it came true in 2003 when I was selected on board the Ship for Southeast Asia Youths... and unforgettable journey but the most unforgettable one is how your friends planted that inspirations and seed in your head when you are so young but 16.

The times.....

I first did something to be proud of... achieving all As in Form Three and being one of the most famous schools in the small town, we have reporters coming to snap our picture and put our little news in the papers. The first thing that I ever did my family proud - haven't seen such occasion of pride in my family then, and further account of my aunt saying that "Our family will never be successful" because our side of the family has no lawyers or engineers like her husband's side of the family... it made me determined to be in papers and dreaming to be on TV one day.... 

And those fine days came - 2 years as a TV presenter on Selamat Pagi Malaysia and numerous times on mass media... and yes, my aunt did the honour of revealing when she was half drunk, to my dad she said, "I, too has a share in the pride and the success of your daughter." And yes, a big role in the growing years and my aunt was my guardian since my parents divorced when I was 4 or 5 years old. 

And of course... that inspirations and seed planted in my head again...

The times....  

Now approaching 30 - still not yet 30 in full as I am but the youngest among the closest of friends.... I felt that it was a long way and yes the inspirations and seeds planted in my head - all achieved and I must say that the applause should go to all my friends and family members for allowing me to share the times and wonderful moments with them. 

As my journey ventures along, I find many big people - big as in rank, reputation and conduct - are many above me, humbling me to walk in my life a little lower.

Jadilah seperti padi.... semakin berisi, semakin tunduk... And I hope I will.... 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Getting to know the life of a Casino High Roller....

It was a first experience for me - the recent trip to Manila, Philippines opened my eyes and widened my horizon.

It all started with my mother saying that there is a trip to Manila. Of all places, my mother planning to visit Manila was a surprise to me. First, she speaks little English. Secondly, I do not think she will like the place. But the reason was later found - it was a casino trip. Every person should buy at least RM10,000 worth of casino rolling chips (chips for you to gamble and cannot exchange to cash unless you win and are paid cash chips) to be entitled for a trip there - inclusive of flights, VIP junket room service, and 3d2n stay at a 5-star hotel, all food inclusive. It came out that the hotel and casino was Resorts World Manila - sounds familiar? Yes, it is Genting's new hotel and casino which is strategically located right across the airport! So people can fly in, gamble for 3d2n and fly back - just like you driving to Genting, gamble for 3d2n and drive back.

We (my mother, aunt, uncle, cousin and I) left Ipoh by taxi to Penang. Upon reaching Penang, we had a McDonald's breakfast meal and then we board the flight. It was an AirAsia flight direct to Manila - yes, there is NO direct flight to Manila from Penang but then this plane is a chartered flight. Most of the high rollers or people in the flight are from Penang so boarding is from Penang airport.
CHTRD FLT - chartered flight to Manila AK9852

On a chartered flight - our meals are provided for free - choice of Nasi Briyani or Nasi something else but where is the Pak Nasir's Nasi Lemak???

Our flight

The flight took slightly less than 4 hours. I touched down to the ground I missed for 7 years. My first time to Manila was during the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP) 2003. I have a foster family and at least 28 ship's participants as friends. Having joined SSEAYP is like having family members around ASEAN and Japan.


Upon touching down, we checked in at the Marriott Hotel, just next to Maxsim Hotel (the hotel run by Genting). Maxsim was still under renovation so we stayed at Marriott. Maxsim, Marriott and the Resorts World casino are all in a block.

The bus moved very slowly to allow a Resorts World (RW) staff to check our names on the bus. We had 4 buses. We were greeted by smiles and a live band singing at the lounge for us to refresh ourselves while waiting for room check-ins. Pastries and drinks were served.

Our rooms at the Marriott Hotel - twin sharing but my cousin got a whole room for herself. Note that the bathroom picture was taken from the bed (yes, it is transparent!!)

I quickly washed my face, freshen up and headed to the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, a university where Chris (SSEAYP friend, Philippines Participating Youth PPY 2003) lectures there. He has invited me to be among the panel speakers for "Her Stories: Three Perspectives of Women Who Serve". The speakers were Yna who is now a sister (PPY 2003) and Nanay (National Leader 2003). About 100 students packed the small auditorium. I was so glad to accept this privilege to speak to these enthusiastic students. THANKS Chris!

At night, I met with my foster father, Uncle Rod Cornejo at the hotel. He would fly to another province on weekend so that was the only time to meet for a chat. Then my bed was calling.... to sleep.

The next morning we have breakfast at the casino's VIP area but then I was hungry so I ordered a pre-breakfast - a Japanese set at only PHP800 (almost RM64 - a steal for a good filling meal at a 5-star hotel!). I only have a chance to walk around the casino and impress myself at the VIP room.

The VIP room has a whole set of sofa, LCD TV, a dining table, a kitchen and staffs to serve us, a private washroom and three private tables for gambling. The minimum ante was RM1,000. Uncle bought 6 bottles of Remy Martin XO and Blue Label and guests in the room could drink to the max. I did not join them the last night so I didn't know how it felt like. Cameras were not allowed at the casino so could not capture some photos...

Wonder how come I only have this photo at the whole market..... Bons has more on facebook! 

Then Bons (PPY 2003) with her husband Fred brought me to Selcedo market... I must visit this market again if I were to go again. It opens only on Saturdays - morning to 1pm. So much local foods there - all delicious to the max - I spent almost PHP4,000 there!

After that, I went to look for my family who have dinner with the group of high rollers at a Chinese restaurant. The menu included abalone, grilled geese, fish, tiger prawns and crabs. I missed that lunch because I had lunch at a local restaurant, Ebun. When going overseas, I always prefer local specialties. I also bought 6 packs of Champ-o-Rado (a local breakfast - chocolate rice porridge) and my favourite Lambanog. Somehow the taste of the Lambanog did not tasted like what it was 7 years ago.

After the lunch, some went to the Mall for shopping which a few of us went back to the hotel. I got a chance to sit at the slot machine but my Genting card cannot be used. Maybe my green card (lowest level) was not VIP enough. So I lingered with my mom watching them bet at the VIP room. RM1,000 per bet is not for me. Is for the high rollers.... I was watching around and then my uncle took the role of my "publicity manager" publicising my liver donation and that I have a Mercedes scar on my abdomen.

A junket came to help me to get a Gold member card. By the time I took the card, it was already evening and I got back to the room to get ready as Boz (PPY 2003) was the chef of the night. My cousin and I went to his house for a feast of local food!

our favourite dessert..... 

Then back to the casino again.....

My cousin asked me to accompany her betting at the low roller area. Our first attempt was at the slots machine.... I inserted my card, reloaded PHP1,000 and pressed a few buttons to try my luck at the jackpot machine. My cousin was next to me and a few press and she stopped to watch me play. I think I pressed less than 10 times and we were raving at the fourth bonus logo at the last reel.... I striked the MINOR jackpot PHP3,600 and another free 25 spins. By the time the spins were done, I won at least PHP8,000. So I stopped and cashed out the money.

We then played at the smaller tables with ante only PHP200 and bets PHP400. We sat at the table for almost 4 hours for the fun of it. We didn't lose much. My cousin, at almost midnight, said that she felt like drinking. We have private VIP rooms to drink and eat but then we were at the table at non-VIP area. She got the waiter to bring a glass of whisky for me and brandy for her.

So big glasses - everyone at the casino was caught looking at us - but I think looking at the glasses! 

The next day, I met my foster family - mother, sister and brother - but time was limited so we only had about an hour for chat at the hotel lobby. Then we went to the casino to cash out all the chips. At the casino, we got news that the flight was delay so we played a while more and had lunch at the VIP area.

We overheard friends saying that one of our friends won more than half a million RM but he continued playing to lose all. My mom lose at least RM60k on the first day but by the end of the trip she flew back with smiles and RM40k in winnings. But the win was not only monetary.... we had a good trip - my first time flying overseas with my mother! we had fun... we enjoyed the luxury - hotel, food, service were all 5 to 6 stars..... and most of all, I enjoyed the most because I get to see my foster family and friends after 7 years and got to meet new friends at the university where I spoke.

Watching sunset while flying back to Penang.... a reminder that gambling is only a recreation... the sunset, reunion with friends and the experience with high rollers are the winnings

Monday, April 26, 2010

Contentment is gratitude to life, complacency is disaster to humankind

It is very important to have contentment in life - feeling that you are enough and having enough. Indeed, everyone of us have enough. You don't believe me?

Try opening your wardrobe and check out the many clothes you have. Try opening the refrigerator - the food and drinks we have. On the tap - the clean water running out the tap for our daily use. On the electricity - lights brighten the night at one blink of an eye. The fact that you are reading this blog, you have Internet access. Ain't our lives have enough? We live with ease, eat and drink enough - until obesity is even the major problem now....

Yes we have enough. Contentment is gratitude to life - the fact that you have enough, you feel enough and thankful for whatever is given or whatever you have in life.

However, we all should not be complacent, being too comfortable of our lives till we fail to improve. Improvements in life is one of the greatest gift you can give to humankind. We are not a beggar on the street or someone who could not make things work for our lives. We can.

Improvements in our lives, whether you are ordinary or special or unique, everyone should improve! Some people who added me on Facebook - after looking at my website always say - "Oh there is nothing to introduce myself about. I am just an ordinary person" Well hey ordinary in your own way has specialty in many ways. And in fact, improvements should start from HOME, not making hoo-hah of getting BIG things done. If you cannot do big things, do small things in a big way - that is just right from home!

Well, starting from home - you slowly inspire your family members and eventually your friends encircled you and later the community and eventually the country and slowly the world.

Let me share an example. I have been promoting organ donation since I first read a booklet on this topic. I first started with MYSELF - pledging my organs. Then I talked to my friends in school and even put up related articles at the school notice board. Well, many would say "How many people will be influenced that way?" But surprisingly, I have ex classmates (that was 16 years ago) putting a comment on my facebook saying "Hoong Ling I still remember you telling me about organ donation when we were in school and I still do not have that courage yet." Well, at least is a good start, and people REMEMBER that I told them about organ donation. Yes, so what if 16 years and she still has not signed up but years to come, more and more people talk about it, I am sure it will happen. Slowly but surely, 16 years efforts will not go by just like that.

I also remember my friend, Anas Zubedy starting ads on unity during festive seasons in Malaysia since 1990s (forgot which year he started it). And then, he also fought for September 16th as a holiday because it will be something significant and so Malaysians will learn Malaysia Day - the day we all Malaysians unite and not just merely a August 31st. His dream came true last year.

Last few years ago, crime rate in my housing area was at peak. We could hear people getting robbed even at daylight every other week. We first gathered among neighbours to add more lights at night. We also figured that many of us do not know our neighbours thus we should have some "parties" to know each other. Party means food and that attracted people. I was so glad to have a Malay neighbour who was never calculative and we shared the costs. At times he absorbed the full costs. We have small parties of about 10-30 people.

The tipping point was when a lady got slashed on the chin and needed 7 stitches from the doctor. That was when we figured we should do things collaboratively - eventually we spread out news that we are having a meeting. The community there was unconcerned and never bothered much so we expect only a few of us from our close community, the most maybe 30 but a whooping 120 people turned up! We eventually set up a Neighbourhood Watch and collaborate with the local MP to fence up our area. Crime rate fell - amazing results. See how we first started small....

Today, I am still doing the same thing. I figured out that environment is a big issue now. Dad wanted to start our own gardening long time ago so we have 2 big containers meant for gardening. We have a dog now so he cut the grass at the front porch often so our dog can play comfortably. I started last week to collect the cut grass, threw in every vege/fruits peels we have and I now also have a hamster - its bedding also can be threw in the container. Yesterday the local council cut trees in front of our house so we have dead wood, saw dust, green leaves but alas - a neighbour is now burning it right in front of our house!!! How disgusting! I should have shared about compost building with them so I can keep all the "rubbish" that they are burning. But I successfully inform my next door neighbour and she, too thinks she can do the same. As she plants some potted plants, she thinks is good to have compost, too so I taught her how to do it. This will eventually lessen the rubbish we have - vege fruits peels, table scrap can all be recycled as compost now.

Slowly but surely.

At times I, too fell into complacency but my nature is such that the complacency only last 2 months - bored with nothing to do, I will do something that will improve my life. And I am glad to have this nature in me. I hope you are too!

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Challenge To Life

I first heard this when playing CDs of Napoleon Hill Science of Success and have been repeating this section again and again. Googled it and found, would like to share.

Life, you can’t subdue me because I refuse to take your discipline too seriously. When you try to hurt me, I laugh-and the laughter knows no pain. I appreciate your joys wherever I find them; your sorrows neither frighten nor discourage me, for there is laughter in my soul.

Temporary defeat does not make me sad. I simply set music to the words of defeat and turn it into a song. Your tears are not for me, for I like laughter much better, and because I like it, I use it as a substitute for grief and sorrow and pain and disappointment.

Life, you are a fickle trickster-don’t deny it. You slipped the emotion of love into my heart so that you might use it as a thorn with which to prick my soul-but I learned to dodge your trap with laughter. You tried to lure me with the desire for gold, but I have fooled you by following the trail which leads to knowledge instead. You induced me to build beautiful friendships-then converted my friends to enemies so you may harden my heart, but I sidestepped your figure on this by laughing off your attempts and selecting new friends in my own way.

You caused men to cheat me at trade so I will become distrustful, but I won again because I possess one precious asset which no man can steal-it is the power to think my own thoughts and to be myself. You threaten me with death, but to me death is nothing worse than a long peaceful sleep, and sleep is the sweetest of human experiences-excepting laughter. You build a fire of hope in my heart, then sprinkle water on the flames, but I can go you one better by rekindling the fire-and I laugh at you once more.

You have nothing that can lure me away from laughter, and you are powerless to scare me into submission. To a life of laughter, then, I raise my cup of cheer!

by the king maker of millionaires, Napoleon Hill

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Control Your Life BEFORE Facebook Does It!

Is interesting how Facebook slowly takes over your life.

I am a loyal person. Very loyal. I was first in Friendster and said will be loyal to it but only until messages after messages came inviting me to Facebook - finally, I gave in and registered an account to see what has it got. Surprisingly simple to use, easy to connect and a heaven of Internet "bookrmarks" ie you can share and tag a photo, video or note, or even synchronise with a blog, twitter, plurk; inviting friends to an event even knowing the RSVPs, joining a group or fan page, even for business connections. Facebook statuses now serve as a quicker, speedier, more accurate news updates than newspaper or TV news.

Then slowly, internet games where you connect and socialize with friends. I must admit I know a lot of new, close friends when playing one of the games, Farmville of course! While it takes up much of my time, I slowly need self discipline to control myself. Fortunately, I have strong self-control.

Last Tuesday I have decided not to go to for 7 days. Boy, the first hour of that decision was difficult but then I blended in - by reading, spending time with dog, cook for family, write some articles, research some knowledge, getting more information on dogs, going to office, play badminton.... wow imagine the bonding back to real physical life!

However, as there are comments by friends on my activities still dropping via email, I find a few questioned my 7-day-no-facebook determination. Many thought I have logged in but in fact I merely shared links via youtube and websites, became a fan via fan box in a website and updating my twitter - which appear at the status! Wow... even NOT logging on - doing daily activities on the web will update the Facebook wall - imagine how Facebook has controlled our lives. Almost every other websites you visited - has "Share on Facebook", "Become a Fan" or even "Join us on Facebook".

No doubt Internet is one thing that I may not be able to do 7-day-no-Internet thingy. I have been to a 10-day meditation retreat thinking it will be great to stop from Internet as laptops were not allowed but my PDA has EDGE! Alas....

But today is the 5th day I successfully abstained from 2 more days I can log in back. How I did it? I have tried scheduling my calendar to specific time or hours of the day only for facebooking - failed. I have tried only certain days - full day facebooking, other days NO facebook - failed. I have tried reading - failed. I am a person who must be treated with super drastic change. So how..?

1. Determined in the mind that I will abstain from Facebook and announce it to the world - I put on my status! Take stock how much time you are spending on facebook and try imagine what you have always wanted to do if not for facebook blocking that time - ie going for a movie, shopping for family, walking the dog, teaching the dog new tricks, cooking for family, calling some friends to reconnect, viewing some properties, learning money management, reading.... lots of things!

2. Remove facebook from bookmarks - it never pops up in front of you - the lesser the better - none pop up  the best

3. Think of ONE alternative word for facebook ie BOOK and have it so many with you. So when I thought of facebook or the itchy finger would like to type, I think of BOOK and I grab the book I was reading half way and continue reading. I even have that book in my handbag just in case I thought of facebook while driving - I'm PDA connected! I am only about 3 chapters away from finishing the book now! Amazing how things get done without much facebook.

4. Arranged my time with outings - Yesterday I went for a dialogue, then to the Grand Opening of Monavie, then to PAWS Mission looking at dogs and I purposely stayed there for dinner, shop around till night, came back to train and play with my Beagle and then bathe and all I have was time to sleep. No facebook for another day, yay!

My purpose of facebook-fasting is not to abstain it forever but to completely cut down the time on facebook and then slowly increasing to an hour a day. Yes, facebook can never disappear from our lives now but if we do not control our lives, most likely Facebook will!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

BIG question about "Living Your Dream" - HOW?

I have dreams - big and small. I am still young so I can't be bragging about being very successful but I have one thing worth sharing - I am living my dreams. I have wanted to be recognised due to desire for self-expression (which I blogged about here) and I have achieved what I wanted and more.

Desiring for recognition? I have got the Selangor Youth Award at 26 by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Great Woman of Our Time Award at 28 by the Malaysian Women Weekly (youngest recipient so far), Lions Club District 308-B1 Distinguished Service Award and due recognition for the good deeds I have done. And I was doing all these for ONE main objective at that time - to proof to my aunt that Chew family can also be successful.

I have done my works, reached my objective after 15 long years. That made me suddenly thought "So, what's next?" My journey of self-discovery last year revolved around understanding myself better and eventually I have wanted to become a successful emcee, speaker and trainer. I wrote about my emceeing dream here.

I have quit my job beginning of the year and currently doing really good and loving my daily life because of my desire for freedom and to do what I want. I am emceeing in many events now, the recent acknowledgment was by a master in Sun Tzu Art of War saying I am the "gold medal" emcee!

I list down just a few points to share on HOW to live your dreams.

Do Good
The FIRST thing you can do to yourself and others. Doing good, keeping no regrets and living every moment at least it will be the last. Of course, I have regrets here and there but in the last few years I have lived my life without too much regrets that I couldn't sleep at night. It is interesting to note that this phrase 'DO GOOD" itself is easier said than done however we can start small by saying thank you when someone hold the lifts' door for us, smile at a stranger or just help a person who has dropped something.

Keep expenses to the lowest, commitment lowest, have substantial savings, and if you decide to be in debt - make sure can cover it in short term, a maximum of 5 years. Bad debts, to be exact!

Having my financial controlled meaning I can quit my job anytime. I work in a company knowing I am not doing it solely for money but for passion, commitment, learning and having that strong sense of responsibility. I treat the company as mine and I work as if I am the boss so that whenever I make a decision, I will always put the company as top priority - never for self-interest. So when there are people asking me why things get done - this is the main reason! If you work for money, chances are your daily work will be moaning around not enough money, no pay raise, no bonus and therefore work efficiency reduces which in turn - no raise no bonus!

This does not mean I am conservative in spending, in fact I am in the "spender" group, I would say I am not the frugal type. Ask any of my friends, they say I spend like I have millions. I enjoy "luxury" enjoyments like savouring Chinese tea, good liquor and even cigar at times! I love my gold coins collection and of course now building my property collection.

I was introduced to finance only when first reading Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I would say it took me more than 2 years to change my mindset about money - something set in the mind by parents and guardians since young - you just gotta change it and do it! Many people do not have that guts to even start, therefore I recommend starting somewhere and now is the best time! Go attend a course or two - if it is free course, attend as many as possible! Even if it says "free previews", go attend because you will learn something.

Be True to Self
I grew up as a popular person everywhere I go. In primary school - the naughtiest! In secondary school - the loudest! I was commander for foot drill, school is so small so it will be difficult to contain your voice in that small environment. With that popularity, it was difficult to be myself. I was wearing a "mask" out everyday trying to be someone. It all stopped when I finally suffocated myself and then I said, "Let me be myself". From the day I removed my "mask" I felt great, the whole burden was lifted from me and I just be myself. There is nothing more you can give to yourself when you are yourself.

I speak directly, very straightforward, no nonsense but I appreciate sense of humor, laugh loudly and heartily! I am the most direct and straightforward person, some may be offended but I care less to think about offending who because in the end, I am responsible for myself and my mouth.

Be Contented, but not Complacency
Be contented with what you have - that's the only thing we can do daily to have what we have! I am very satisfied with my life. I have (more than) enough to eat, 2 wardrobes of clothes which I try to wear till they all tear but they could last for years! I have a good home, eventhough is rented, I have calculated the finance to justify renting. The furnitures at home enough, I have a collection of tea which could last me for at least 40 years, a good few bottles of liquor and red wine, I love making my house everyday now!

However, do have achievable goals every year and slightly challenging ones so to make your daily lives an interesting one - something that makes you jump out of bed every morning! Do not be too contented till complacency takes over.

Is not difficult to list down at least 5 things you are grateful for at the end of the night. The food you eat, the air you breath, the people who have hurt you so you grow to be a better person, things that do not get along because it helps you patience, the every little things that you have - APPRECIATE it. Say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU everyday. In fact, about a quarter ago, I started typing THANK YOU only in capital letters, even in emails. Because it is a BIG THANK YOU!

This is the single attribute that makes me jump out of bed every morning. Appreciating that I am still breathing when I wake up.

Take Chances
Quitting my job is not easy. I had about RM14,000 debts when I made the decision, I have no plans yet at that time - all I knew is I want to emcee but no jobs yet. I also want to go around to speak on organ donation but all these are for free, I also would like to be a trainer which I am now pursuing the Napoleon Hill certified trainer course (new trainer, what do you expect?) I want to invest in property but I went for 7 auctions last year only got one property so the income is not enough. But I just needed to take the chance!

I think that my bold step and courage is right because I am free. I felt that I have a "too heavy" sense of responsibility. When I am working for others, I must get things done therefore I am burdening myself when things are not done especially when decisions lies in your bosses' hands - which sometimes decisions were never made - making me madder! This heavy sense of responsibility also proven when I took the current project with Money Compass making me feel stressful when my objectives are not reached. But all good - I learnt a lot of things.

Therefore, this year I would like to take out the things that burden me - ie my job and do what I do not feel burden on - my passion. Being an emcee, speaking and training!

Is OK to Work for Free
Yes it is. In fact, this "work for free" attitude is what built me to who I am today. ALL organizations that I have joined and served are all working for free. I remember starting working for free for many people, including being the ex-secretary to Dato' Sri Ong Tee Keat. This attitude has generated more "income" than ever - even if it is not in monetary terms. It built a stronger character, learnt much more, communications skills and knowing the inside out of things.

This principle of not working for money is in line with the "financial" pointer I have above.

Once in a while or shall I say, all the time - think of GIVING! It is not just giving money. You can give more efforts to your work by doing something extra or help a colleague finishes his or her tasks. You can give your time to the old and orphaned. You can volunteer to clean your house (as in giving your family something). You can offer to cook a meal - give!

In my case, I did a super bold step to give my liver! Looking back, I have not figured out why I did that in the first place.

Play a game or two
At times we just needed to relax. Play a game or two - sports or just computer games! I was a fan of Luna Online after seeing my 50-year old mother playing CQ Online. Hey, my mom playing online games! Now, I am a fan of Farmville on facebook. Interesting how the game comes with the concept of giving and paying it forward.

Hunger to Learn
I need to relook at this and return to the always hunger to learn. I must say I have this attitude with me since schooldays making me eager to learn in many ways even trying to learn as much as I can. Now, as I grow older, I must admit there is a little "ego" in me that made me slow down a bit. As I am writing this blog, I am renewing my energy and hunger to learn.

Appreciate laughters
I laugh loudly and heartily. Some people said it was because of my ear is not functional on the left therefore I speak louder and laugh louder. True to a sense but I just appreciate good laughters. I was very serious in school. To me, being a commander for foot drill in school does not help - everything was serious, you can't laugh when in line, we were basically not just drilled on foot but drilled like any military man - therefore the tough and often rough me!

I read a self improvement book at teen age which says humor is good. I was lousiest when it comes to humor. No one at home has said good jokes - everything was so serious, my aunt was a disciplinarian. At school in class, teachers are not good jokers. How the heck am I going to learn humor. You just gotta start and since you are starting somewhere, why not NOW!? So I started to learn a few jokes and slowly blend in every conversation. Lame jokes included at first but then it improves! Do not be afraid of copying others jokes - is just for laughs anyway and laughs we should - always!

I think if you ask my friends now, I should be the one who talks a lot and laugh a lot but more to it, making people laugh the most! Agree?

So, live your dreams - is easy - you just need the first step and the first step should be TODAY. Having the slightest intention to do it is already a good start.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

TODAY is Our FIRST Anniversary

14th January will always be a date to remember. It is now 7.08am as I typed this blog. It was a chilly morning a year before. I was alone in the hospital ward in Gleneagles Singapore, bathed and waiting for my family members to come accompany me to the operation theater (OT).

The hospital attendant came in first with a bed, intended for me to lie on it and then be pushed to the OT. I called my mommy who has arrived earlier yesterday from Ipoh, Malaysia and asked if she is coming. I felt so lonely then. The sky was still dark and the air-conditioning made this kialeng (afraid of cold) lady shiver a bit. The sight of the attendant with the bed was not welcomed as I have expected my family instead.

A year ago, I gave part of my liver away, 60% to be exact, to save a 13-year old girl. Her name was Lee An Qi (pronounce "Chi"). I was wanting to do something today. It was a day I wanted to celebrate the "victory" of conquering her illness which led to a liver transplant. It was a day that I gave new lease of life to someone. I even told her family that we are going to celebrate this day every single year, it will be our year of celebration and we should have dinner together.

Little did we know that she passed away only merely after 8 months of operation. It wasn't that my liver failed in her - it was due to lungs infections.

I wanted to celebrate this day with a launch of a mascot for organ donation. Apparently, it seems to be difficult to get to the Ministry of Health for such approval. Or shall I say I did not try hard enough though. I didn't want to mess with red tapes and protocol but just that it should be done in a correct way. However, seems like the people in the ministry did not buy in to the idea for now. So, I have decided not to launch it.

My objective was pretty simple, direct and some said, naive. I wanted to increase organ pledges in Malaysia, period. To cut the long story short, I will just do my work. Simple.

I find myself now more relaxed and taking my life easier, unlike last time I will fight my way through it to get things done. I told myself, since my intention is to get more organ pledges, I can slowly influence friends and family members to do it first. Eventually the news will spread and more and more people will pledge organs - and my objective reached. So, why mess with the ministry when I can do that myself? In the end, it will not worth my energy, time and effort so why not concentrate my full energy time and effort towards reaching my objective?

I appreciate friends who have helped me and a few even gave cash contributions which I should return soon. I will still maintain with its blog and website but will not make it a hoo-haa until the time is right. I want to thank Anas for giving his advice, attention, energy and even getting his PA to help in this launch which never did launched!

Dortie, a mascot for organ donation, which is acronym for Donate Organ Today, Inspire Everyone! It was supposed to be a mascot for me and a website to accompany the book I am writing about my journey but I thought to bring it to the national level. And the naive me forgot everything about the red tapes with governments.

Anyway, back to January 14th. My Dad asked yesterday if I was launching Dortie. I said nope and just kept quiet. He solemnly look at me in my eyes, sighed and said, "If only An Qi was still alive, we should have celebrated today." It was sad for me and my family. I am crying as I type this, it seems sad to me that An Qi passed on although I have always said that it is good for her. She has suffered bone cancer and then lungs infection, getting in and out the hospital for almost 2 years was stressful for her.

Did I regret or feel wasted? NO! In fact as a friend said, even giving life to another person for another minute will be very meaningful, what more she got 8 months.

But as much as I have saved her, she has given me much more! She has given back my life as I now stopped many organizations I joined and eventually focus on spreading organ donation awareness. I also gained my health back and time with family.

Our story has also inspired more people donating organs which saved even more lives. Our story will sooner or later inspire more people to pledge organs, more than what we think we could reach. Although not with us now, An Qi will surely be the person who has left a legend in helping promote organ donation awareness. And I will live with the mission to increase organ pledges so eventually our story helps save lives!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Setitik nila rosak susu sebelanga

I was not at all interested in writing anything in regards of the burning of churches last night because I felt that it is really an act of skxawng, nothing more than too-free-after-makan acts to burn some fiery feelings or maybe why not, burn some buildings? And also, is nothing related to Buddhists like me so, why write?

I didn't even want to put more energy into this issue as I always believe that where the energy goes - it expands. So why waste energy there, why focus on issues when we want to unite? I even posted on my facebook status "just saw Lifebuoy soap advertisement on TV - interviewed a Malay, Chinese and an Indian on the effectiveness of soaps. WOW! Even TV ad uses multi lingual, multi ethnic concept. That's how it should be! That's the way, I like it!"

However, Pah Nur's blog changed my mind. She asked all brothers and sisters irregardless of religion to stay united in this issue. A few friends asked of my opinion, then when I was at zubedy's office today, Anas asked 3 times "Are you writing on the burning of the church?" (tiga kali wooo...) so Ok la... tulis sikit la...

As Buddhists, we do not even fire back when someone destroy a Buddha's statue or a temple because we know that the teachings of Buddha lies in our hearts and we practise them in daily lives. A Buddha statue or a temple is a place of worship and an image to let us know who our teacher is. NOT acting in the name of revenge is WISDOM, the essence of Buddha's teachings. While we believe in "protecting" the Buddha, the Dhamma (Buddha's teachings) and the Sangha (monks and nuns), we also know that "Takkan agama Buddha lenyap di dunia" (as in Takkan Melayu lenyap di dunia, la!) so why so kan cheong? Somehow, I heard someone said that Buddha himself predicted that there will be no Buddhism in the future also, so why so kan cheong?

I believe the Christians are wise enough to be calm and stay loving to their "enemies" - essence of Christianity! How beautiful can religions be and how situations can really test our actions and real practise!

Well, this does not mean that I am blaming those who burnt the churches are not wise. In fact, whether is for good or for bad, wise or unwise, somehow it could be related to this incident that many did not turn up to protest after Friday's prayer today. Thanks to them who puts the fire, no?

I find it amusing that warnings after warnings were issued when there was sign of Hindraf demonstrating at the streets. But when people want to protest because of the "Allah" name, our Prime Minister Najib said he can't stop the protest.

Well, sebab setitik nila rosak susu sebelanga, sebab satu perkataan bakarlah beberapa gereja. It just show how unwise these people could react to one single word. I would say that the acts of just a tiny "drop" of people has made Islam, a beautiful religion of great Peace, a bad name, at least in Malaysia for now. We have also seen what the "drop" did during 911.

Wiser Malaysians can see that such an act is NOT the teachings of Islam, much far away from the practise of any religion. I don't think I will reproduce what other Muslim bloggers have on what the Quran says in this matter. There are many here:
Pah Nur's opinion
Anas' quoting the Quran
Art Harun's

And I always like Marina's la... She focuses on what is to be done NOW, not the pointing of fingers, brooding the past which can't be changed. Marina's suggestions... I like the suggestion on getting Muslims to clean the churches, cool idea!

A few of my friends really condemn Islam and accused the beautiful religion for the burning of churches. For these friends, I advise having more friends of different ethnics and religions so that you understand your friends better. Even better, understand their religions and culture.

Yesterday when Anas' presented a talk - he suggested non-Malays to read the Quran, buy a peribahasa book to read and... err.. aiyo need to "repair" my memory. All those I did but funny thing was... he said non-Chinese should read Tao Te Ching and... errr.. (repair memory)... which I never even touched that before!!! Am I the OCBC?

As my blog title suggests - it was only that "drop" of followers that spoil the name of Islam. And my sharing of other blogs here proved that there are so many Muslims actually condeming the act of burning the churches as well. Let us not be the skxawng to point fingers and simply conclude that Islam is *****...

May all be well and happy always!

skxawng - moron in Navi's language
kan cheong - nervous (in Cantonese)

Monday, January 4, 2010

The word "Allah"

I am intrigued by comments on the recent ruling by the High Court to allow the use of the word "Allah" by Herald. These are a few articles supporting it while there are some skxawng** mourning for the "loss".

Asri: "Manusia memang patut panggil Tuhan dengan panggilan Allah"

Allah, the Bible, Christians and Muslims by Anas Zubedy

By far, I like this blog the most:
Confident people do not get confused by Marina Mahathir

As some could have guessed, yes the appeal is coming, too. And let's continue seeing the drama.

Whatever it is, it does not matter for me as I am a Buddhist and we believe in the teachings of Buddha (not Buddha). If all of us could just FOLLOW the teachings of our own religions, could there be no arguments on God and the names to call God?

Ain't all religions teach us to be good? And how could "be good" - such a simple term to follow - could be so difficult to do? I once asked many many many questions about the "technicalities" in Buddhism - such as why there are monks who are not vegetarian, how do we justify karma when we can't see it, can anyone prove reincarnation, why this, why that... till a point that a monk finally advised me - Buddha taught us the noble truths, middle way and the basic 5 precepts. If any Buddhist can just follow these simple ways, he is a true Buddhist whether he knows the answers to those questions or not.

All religions teach us to be good. Are we all good yet?

**skxawng (to understand the Na'Vi language, click here - too obsessed watching Avatar!)