The Things Dreams Are Made Of: Ferringhi Coffee Garden and the Road Leading to It

On the way to Batu Ferringhi from Georgetown city, one drives past some nice neighbourhoods nestled among hills and greeneries

On the way to Batu Ferringhi from Georgetown city, one drives past some nice neighbourhoods nestled among hills and greeneries

I always enjoy my leisurely drives to Batu Ferringhi, the seaside town that is Penang’s popular holiday spot. Going up the winding road, I pass by many things which to me are things that dreams are made of.

On the right, trees with thick green leaves sway in the wind, against the blue backdrop of the sea and the sky. Different shades of blue are decorated by white fluffy clouds, sometimes it’s an empty blue sky over a glistening sea. Occasionally, especially on weekends, you see colourful moving dots when para gliders have the time of their lives, or rapid trails of foam on the water made by jet skis.

And then, of course, there are the waterfront bungalows and condominiums that line the road that leads to Batu Ferringhi, and assuming that the people living in these swanky properties are also happy with their lives, themselves, and what they do – these too, are things that dreams are made of, in my books.

Love the thick, crunchy toast!Big breakfast in a garden cafe - enough said.

Love the thick, crunchy toast!

So two weekends ago, I made yet another leisurely drive up to this place, this time with the intention of having a quiet breakfast by myself at the Ferringhi Coffee Garden while catching up with some work. I wanted a huge, heartily rich and sinful breakfast in a calm setting that will get my ideas flowing so this had to be one of the best places in Penang that fit my purpose.

In Batu Feringghi, heaven can be found by the roadside.

In Batu Feringghi, heaven can be found by the roadside.

I found the restaurant right by the main road in the town, albeit cleverly hidden and ensconced in flowers and trees – yes, it is literally a garden. I disregarded nagging thoughts of insects falling onto my plate (or worse, head) and chose the table at the outdoor corner that was placed right before some tall leafy plants that hovered closely over my head. I ordered my coffee and their biggest breakfast, and turned on my laptop and started taking in the scenery before my eyes – I couldn’t ask for a better place to have breakfast. The food was good, and I ate while enjoying the beautiful garden, and taking peeks at the electronic screen in front of me – the nitty gritty of my dreams that non-dreamers call ‘work’. Occasionally I put down my fork and knife to type down the inspiration that struck, while my mouth remained busy chewing and eating. Sometimes the jazz music they played was so good, I hummed along.

I ended up sitting there for at least 3 hours, leaving only when the sky looked like it was about to rain. On my way out I realized the owners had cleverly tiled the path that led to the restaurant.

The thoughtfully tiled path leading to and from Ferringhi Coffee Garden

The thoughtfully tiled path leading to and from Ferringhi Coffee Garden

I got into my car and started my journey out of Batu Feringghi, once again passing by the things that dreams (or at least my dreams) are made of – the calmness of a blue sea, the optimism of a blue sky on a sunny day, the freedom of birds in the air, the courage and uninhibitedness of a daredevil jet skier, the life and vitality of robust leafy trees, the luxury of some of the world’s best hotels, where people who know they are worth it indulge themselves, and the dream homes lining the path, tangible fruits of an honest life’s work and seeds sown wisely. And of course, the beauty of a garden restaurant like Ferringhi Coffee Garden, and the passion with which the food was made, served and eaten.

I will be back again, anytime my dreams need refueling.

Pray, Tell Me: Why Exercise Every Week?

My favourite rock singer is a great inspiration to exercise regularly. Check out his videos on youtube and you will know what I mean. 45 now and all that stamina!

My favourite rock singer is a great inspiration to exercise regularly. Check out his videos on youtube and you will know what I mean. 45 now and all that stamina!

One and a half years ago I attended a concert by Taiwanese rock singer, Wu Bai and his band, China Blue. It was a solid rocking time, easily 3 hours’ worth of his greatest hits and popular songs, and boy, did that man sing LIVE (no lip syncing here!), play his guitar, prance around, jump, dance, run across the stage, joke with the audience, and change costumes within blinks of the eye.

And my favourite rock singer was all of 44 years old that time.

No excuse not to exercise!

No excuse not to exercise!

So 44 and all that stamina, how did he do it? I would assume it was through disciplined, constant exercise. And it is with this assumption that I will remind myself why I need to head to the gym everytime I am stifling yawns after work, fighting logical reasonings like ‘nothing is jiggling, the Levi’s still look good on me, I am feeling tired now, so why go to the gym?’

So counter to that, are the reasons why I must exercise regularly, at least twice a week:

1. There has never been a time in my life during which I exercise regularly, that I suffer from lethargy especially during working hours

2. There have always been (and will always be!) times in my life during which I slack on my exercise, that I decided againt wearing my favourite jeans (or certain outfits) because, well, the flab always caught up with me

This keeps me going on the treadmill or any running track.

This keeps me going on the treadmill or any running track.

3. The tiredness or sleepiness at the end of a long day at work is always, without fail, gone – 5 minutes into an exercise session, thanks to my iPod

4. I always, without fail, feel on top of the world – 10 minutes into an exercise session, and the adrenaline high lasts for a few more hours and ebbs into a pleasant, happy feeling that all is well with the world

5. I feel mentally sharper and more alert – and with a job where I need to constantly come up with fresh ideas, solve problems, counter objections, and find ways to see things from other people’s perspectives, to say that this comes in handy is a huge understatement!

6. I love my food and exercising regularly gives a comforting thought that just in case I have eaten a little too much unhealthy stuff – too much cholesterol, bad fats, sugars or whatever – at least I know that I get my heart pumping regularly and my body to detoxify!

7. I sleep better than usual after exercising.

8. My appetite increases after exercising and food tastes even better! And of course, no worries about that because the metabolic rate increases too.

9. Exercising with weights makes sure I tone up and gain muscle mass – otherwise I tend to look too skinny.

So this morning I woke up and had a run on the treadmill before leaving for work. And I feel on top of the world. And this Saturday I am going to participate in a charity cancer awareness outdoor run which I am really looking forward to.

Life’s great. Carpe Diem!

Six Questions to Ask Ourselves Everyday, According to Brendon Burchard

Having seen Brendon Burchard’s Facebook ads, I clicked on the link and the positive comments on his training video led me to click the Play button. I wasn’t disappointed! I didn’t take notes so here from memory, in my own words, are the 6 questions he says we should be asking ourselves a few times a day if we want to “live, love and matter”.

1. Am I rested and well hydrated? (Physical)

2. What is my mission today? (Productivity)

3. What is the level of my presence, in terms of physical presence and emotional vibrancy with whatever I am doing? (Presence)

4. Am I living my truth today? (Psychological)

5. Am I demonstrating bold enthusiasm? (Persuasion)

6. How can I serve greatly? (Purpose)

So far I have done pretty well with question 1 – remembering to get sufficient sleep and drink more water than I usually do. Will be working on the rest for sure, and his video is definitely worth watching more than just once.

Is there really no choice…

But to just bear with a situation that we do not like, but one that we happen to find ourselves in?

A situation we are stuck with not because we do not want change, but perhaps we are limited by health, finances, or safety issues. Or maybe there are some other people that we are responsible for, so we can’t make the change we want.

I guess the first thing to do to start feeling better is to simply accept that in life, there will always be things that fall short of our ideals, sometimes grossly so. So there’s no point wishing that it would be different, no point tearing our hair out wishing people or circumstances will change. Maybe it’s clearer to lay down my thoughts in a list… Since I am penning down my thoughts as they come.

1. Accept the situation
Wishing things are different will only cause frustration, and even bitterness in some cases.

2. Look at the bright side
Things could have been worse!

3. Find something that we can change, even it it’s just a small aspect
Surely even in the midst of the worst trial, there is a comforting ritual, or a minor improvement we can make. Living with insufferable in-laws? Perhaps you can still plan mini getaways with your spouse that you can look forward to. Focus on the reward for being so patient and tolerant.

4. Count our blessings
This sounds like number 2, but I just realized if we can just switch our default thinking to see the donut before the hole… Imperfections in life may just not drive us so crazy anymore.

5. And at times when it really gets too much…and you slip into depression feeling trapped… Remember that we are never trapped in the sense that we are always free to choose our response and perspective to things.

So there goes my spontaneous post, and I am feeling better already. Yes there are things that bug me, that have bugged me for as long as I can remember…and situations involving maddening factors beyond my control. But hey, I think this post is cathartic and empowering, so I will try to stick to this advice I gave myself today.

I actually DO feel better already…so I guess like fine wines, perspectives do get better with time… I love my life, so I will embrace even the battles that I do not feel are worth fighting. Embrace them so that I can constantly refine and even enjoy the process of finding creative and comforting solutions, especially in the midst of unchanging circumstances.

The June Post: Life is short, so make it sweet

I woke up to a beautiful morning here in Penang, Malaysia – sunshine streaming through my window, birds chirping and water running in the fish pond – and realized, hey it’s already June!

I did a quick mental review of my 2014 thus far and noted that some of the things I wrote down in my prayer journal on New Year’s Eve are already coming true. Some have come true.

I’ve always believed there is power in writing things down. Clarity is so important – I am not an expert on how the mind works but I think when we make some things clear and specific to ourselves an imprint is made on our subconscious that will somehow steer us towards the right decisions and away from the wrong ones. Maybe that’s how we our instincts come about.

My guiding mantra for this year which I am so conscious of and take so seriously, is that I am where I am today because of the choices I made in the past. Some choices I applaud myself for and some I regret – so the biggest motivation and drive this year is to be mindful that what I do today will lead to where I will be tomorrow. This would be the advice I tell my younger self too if I could travel back in time.

So clarity and making conscious choices have made out pretty well for me so far. I decided to cut out people and habits that were toxic to me and made no apologies for that.

I feel purposeful, and there’s always this sense of urgency that comes from the gratitude of knowing that each day brings with it the opportunity to make the right choices to get to where I want to be. This way I am fully engaged in the present, even as I take steps that will lead to the future I want.

Carpe diem! Life is short so we’d better make it sweet.