The Ultimate Wish, for Every Book Loving Wordsmith?

How do I begin
To tell this mighty tale
Of musty pages
That never go stale
And print so precious
It consumes my consciousness?

Once upon a time
Fairy tales and the Famous Five
Sweet Valley High and Mills and Boons
Afternoons in the library
Novels during exam times
Read on the sly.

Classics, Whodunits, Bildungsroman
Biographies, philosophy and spirituality
Historical, adventure, business, and romance
Give me any volume
To bring to the queue
Just enough thickness
To see me through the wait
Precious companions
That withstand the test of time.

This mighty tale
Will have no end

And hopefully, one day, I will write a book I will be proud to read.

Freedom

Sitting here
Facing my fear
I think I hear
My freedom calling.

Birds in the sky
Oh how they fly
Though hunters
Somewhere neigh
May point to the sky
Shoot them till they die.

‘I am meant to fly!
Give the skies a try
Though I may die
At least the cage
I have defied.’

Sitting here
Doing my dream
I know my journey
Will not be all smooth sailing
Cultures, vultures
Oh pressure!
Expectations, competition
What criticism!
Limitations facing possibilities
A tiny bird
In the vast open sky
What do I do?

Sitting here
Perched on my Rock
I still my mind
And hear the Voice:
“Take the leap and
Spread your wings!”
So off I go
Into the vast unknown
Limitations, possibilities and all
Fear, excitement and hope.

Higher and higher I soar
Headlong
Into those vast unknowns
Only to find
That up close
They are not
Even half the horizon!

Sitting here
Facing those fears
I now know the answer
When again I hear
My freedom calling.

‘Meant to fly
Though I may die
At least the cage
I have defied.’

To emote or not to emote, that is the question.

I must confess I had to look this word up in the dictionary, although I was sure it had something to do with emotions.

So turns out this is a verb, which according to Merriam Webster means ‘to give expression to emotions, especially in acting.’

“To emote or not to emote, that is the question.”

We will always have emotions – positive and negative. Happiness, anger and sadness. How far should we express them, how restrained should we be? In democratic countries we talk about the freedom of expression, but in my opinion too much of a good thing can end up doing more harm than good.

I have mellowed over the years because I have learned that being too expressive – especially of negative emotions – can at best spread negative energy all over, stressing the people around me, and at worst damage relationships beyond repair.

So while I am not against emoting, I believe in doing so mindfully – in a way that ensures I am fully aware of my emotions, and thus experience them fully and yet still have the presence of mind to express them appropriately and constructively.

Emotions are not to be denied, and yet many times subtle and restrained expressions are the ones that help us convey and connect the most powerfully. Think of…a quiet but intense look versus hysterical yelling, perhaps. No question which one speaks more volumes, albeit not literally.

This post is part of SoCS: https://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-june-2814/

Seven Life Lessons Blogging Has (Unexpectedly) Taught Me

Today marks the 45th day of this blog’s existence. And my blogging adventure has turned out to be much more than what I had expected! When I started ‘People, Places and Perspectives’ I was only thinking of how I would need to be consistent with my posts and persevere till I gain enough readership.

But what I have learned over the past 45 days goes way beyond that, and interestingly, all these lessons can apply to life and just about any other endeavors! So here goes, the seven life lessons blogging has unexpectedly taught me (albeit some more so than the others):

1. Be consistent and persevere
Rome wasn’t built in a day, the saying goes. So is a successful blog. When I first began posting here my readers consisted of my Facebook friends, and slowly I gained more followers and readers online. After a few posts I started getting Likes, and after participating in a writing prompt organized by another blog, comments started coming in as more people saw what I wrote.

And this leads to the second lesson I learnt:

2. I cannot succeed without others
I started receiving comments on my posts after taking part in Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness (SoC) monthly writing challenge. This was, to me, a platform for the bloggers to get together and showcase our work and get the views, as Linda wrote in her SoC post. So if I had soldiered on by myself and not joined the others on this platform, I doubt I would have the visibility I have now!

So this reminds me of how in other aspects of life, too, personal and professional, I cannot progress and succeed without a network of like minded people.

3. Like attracts like
I find myself gaining blog followers who seem to be on the same page with me on many things we write about, sharing similar perspectives on life, spirituality, dreams, and personal growth. And I am drawn to bloggers who display the same interests and positive vibes. I am a dreamer, and have dreams of becoming a published author someday – and I can already easily recall at least 5, 6 other bloggers I follow and who follow me who have the same aspirations or are already living this aspiration.

So the lesson here? I must be whatever I want to have. In order to have excellent role models, for example, I must first strive towards excellence myself.

4. Be courteous, respectful and pleasant
On WordPress the bloggers (or at least those I have been exposed to over my 45 days here) seem to abide by a basic etiquette – everyone is polite even when disagreeing, and many make an effort to respond to comments. And it’s so encouraging to see the positive and uplifting comments on the threads.

This is definitely a great reminder for life offline!

5. Be myself
In the beginning of this blog’s life, I was wondering what to write about to attract readers. In the end I decided it would be futile if not frustrating to force myself to write about things that are not my passion just because I think they are popular.

And so far being myself has worked out pretty fine as far as blogging is concerned – and most importantly it enables the journey to be fun.

Offline, this works out the same.

6. Let go of the need to be perfect
Whatever ‘perfect’ means. I have been writing for as long as I remember, and before this blog I used to take a lot of time to complete a piece. I finally came to the point where I find wrestling with the so-called writer’s block (which I now think is just a fancy term for the inner critic in many of us) too tiring and frustrating, and that I would rather just let the words flow without worrying about how they will be received. After all, the best writings are produced when a writer ‘writes to express, not to impress.’

So this is how I managed to churn out 24 posts within 45 days, and this habit of letting go of perfectionism has spilled over to work and my personal life, allowing me to become more effective. Yes!

7. Celebrate every milestone
This is closely related to lesson no. 6 on letting go of perfectionism. Everytime I gain a new follower, a view, a like or a comment, I rejoice! Even if the stats show only one page view, it means ONE person saw my writing – and how can I be sure that that one person was not touched in any way?

Maybe it’s easier to celebrate small milestones as a wordpress blogger because the statistics feature makes the number very tangible. And happily this has become a reminder to me to also celebrate milestones in other areas of my life, and to let the voice of my inner cheerleader drown the voice of my inner critic.

So wow, I love WordPress! What about you – in what ways has blogging enriched your life?

Six Inspiring Things I Heard This Week

From the keynote speech delivered by Malaysian TV personality, entrepreneur and social activist, Ngai Yuen Low, at the Northern Region Women’s Leadership Summit 2014:

1. On fulfilling one’s potential
“Hell is when you meet the person you could have been.”

2. On chasing after our dreams
“Don’t think too much. Just dive in and the rest will take care of itself.”

3. On dealing with criticisms
“Don’t bother with what others say, as long as you know where you are heading. You must see ten years ahead, not ten weeks ahead!”

4. On being a good parent
“When I am happy with myself, I can be a good mommy.”

From the emcee and other panel speakers at the same event:

5. On productivity
“Done is better than perfect.” – quoted by Tian Pow Pun, event emcee

6. On how some people seem to have things work in their favour all the time
“Luck is the byproduct of design.” – guest panelist, Boonsiri Somchit-Ong

Motivation: Lasting Impact, Simple Means

Today two colleagues and I conducted a motivational program for a group of factory employees – and I use the term “motivational” rather than motivation because I am far from an expert on this subject. Therefore, it is more accurate to say that we organized something to motivate the workers to be more engaged and enthusiastic about their work, rather than to teach them about motivation.

Aside from the fact that none of us are motivation experts, I also believe that motivation can never really be taught. Like passion, genuine lasting motivation is something that has to come from within.

So how did we go about designing a program that would be fun, and most importantly, drive home a strong message that leads to lasting change? We wanted to achieve a profound impact through elegant and uncomplicated means. How?

So we put our heads together and in the end came up with a program content based on these premises:

1. That the answers (as to how to solve problems, get along with others, and be happier at work) are already in the participants themselves

2. That any motivational program must not appear to be preachy, shoving do’ s and dont’s down the throats of perfectly capable adults

So, for messages to be effective in spurring real change, they must be discovered by the participants themselves. Nothing new, actually – considering this is actually what the best counsellors, coaches/mentors and therapists do: leading their charges to discover answers for themselves, rather than telling them what to do.

So we did just that. First, we identified the priorities of this group of workers. And then, prior to the program day, we had them answer a questionnaire that sought their opinion on how things can be improved.

Then we analyzed their responses and picked the most common and also the most pertinent ones to compile into a summary. This morning, we kicked off the program by running through its objectives, and pointed out how these objectives were pretty much aligned with the feedback they had given us through the questionnaire. We believe in affirmation!

Next, we showed the summary of their responses and thanked them for their input, and informed them of what we were going to do about it. There were giggles and laughter as familiar statements flashed on the screen, and I noticed a good number of them nodding intently as I spoke.

In line with the premise that answers are often found within oneself, the next thing we did was to run a session on personalities – highlighting how we tend to approach life and relationships differently based on how we are wired. Finally we had them get into groups to brainstorm on what the different personality types could do to bridge differences and contribute to workplace harmony. They then took turns to present their results with the whole group, and in the end, out of the entire list of ‘things we can do’, we asked them to pick three things they could do over the next month or so, and then see if there is better teamwork and overall happiness by then.

What are these three things?
1. They agreed they would start saying ‘thank you’ whenever they receive feedback for improvement
2. They agreed they would smile at and greet their co workers and superiors
3. They agreed they would start to extend help to colleagues even if the task is not in their job description

And we would remind them of these three things, and follow up with them over the next few weeks to get their feedback on how things have improved with these simple behaviour modification.

Of course there were other fun things we did in today’s program, but I would not elaborate other than saying that we did play a couple of games, ate some good food (loved the hot and spicy tempe and anchovies!), had photos taken, and had a blasting karaoke session.

Granted, motivation is a lifestyle and not just a one-day program, so we will be following up with our participants and walking alongside them to discover more answers. And they will definitely not be the only ones learning and growing 🙂

Never Wait for Perfect Conditions – The Poem

Do you really
Have to do all the dishes
Before showering
Your children with kisses?

Do you really
Have to zap all that flab
And let the sun, sea and beach wait
As they call out to you
For a time so fab?

Do you really
Have to wait till you’re ‘rich’
In order to see
The world
So within reach?

Do you really
Have to silence the Critic
Appease the Pessimist
Pacify the Fearful
Before you do
The thing
Your heart says to do?

Ducks in a row?
No, they swim
Waddle all over
All bases covered?
No, pray, who can tell
When the winds of change
Decide to blow?

Do you really
Believe that come
That One Day
You will be ready?

To tell the world what you need
And have it bowing at your feet?
(I think it will laugh, before anything!)
To lay a claim on your dreams
And have it as easy as cream?
(What’s the taste of discouragement – bitter or sour?)
To step out of the boat
And know you will float?
(Better to find out, how to swim!)

No ducks
Will stay in a row
No bases
Will be shrouded
Ever in safety

Perfect conditions
Exist, I suspect
Only in Heaven
So I’d better
Not wait for that ‘moment’
Better to live
In ‘the’ moment
For everything else
There is Providence.