The Eight Investments We Can Make in Ourselves

I write this as I feel the soreness on my hips and back and realized I have not gone for any massage this month. Yet.

And this gets me thinking of how some people I know seem to deliberately choose to invest in themselves–spending on things that would make them better physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. Suddenly this makes a lot of sense to me because taking care of and continuously developing ourselves is vital if we want to be effective in the long run, not only in pursuing the things important to us but also in our service to society and our loved ones. So in my opinion, here are the some of the best things we can invest in ourselves:

1. Massages
Okay, this may not appeal to everyone but I just have to put it on this list because I have a traditional Chinese masseuse who loosens my joints, eases my sore muscles and gets my blood circulation going to the extent that my cheeks glow! I happily spend on massages because they are great to loosen up physically and mentally, but it is important to get a skillful therapist.

2. Exercise
I am lucky to have access to a swimming pool and gym where I stay. But if there’s a need to get proper guidance on our workouts and also a proper gym, it can be worthwhile to invest in our health and fitness by paying for gym memberships and personal training sessions, like what my brother just did.

3. Holidays and getaways
I love these too because getting away from routine and familiarity broadens my perspectives and the resulting mental clarity pays off in many ways. It could lead to the next groundbreaking idea that causes a career quantum leap!

4. Laser corrective eye surgery
The people I know who had gone through this procedure and thus parted ways with contact lenses tell me it’s one of the best investments they’ve ever made. I finally had mine middle this year and while I can’t say it changed my life (though apparently it did change some others’!) I definitely do not regret waking up with a clear vision every morning and not having to worry if I have forgotten my contact lenses and cleaning solutions everytime I travel. I miss looking cool and nerdy with spectacles, though, but that’s a small problem.

5. Books (and other reading material)
Books! Of course! Book lovers would know why, and non readers won’t be reading my blog in the first place, so I won’t elaborate.

6. Language learning
It’s a globalized world, and learning a new language keeps my mind sharp and inspired. And with nifty interactive apps like Babbel, learning German at my own pace has proved to be a good way to unwind after a long day at work. Ich lerne gerne Deutsch! Ich mag Babbel sehr!

7. Psychotherapy
Yes, I enshrine this on my list at the risk of raising conservative eyebrows on wrinkled Asian foreheads. But virtually all of us have certain negative patterns we are caught in– and to invest in professional help that can help us uncover and overcome the root cause once and for all, why not? I realized I had a fear of rejection that made it hard for me to ask for things at work–and after just one session with my therapist the root cause was identified, and from a place of wholeness, boldness came naturally. I could have gradually overcome that fear on my own, with effort and growing maturity, but it might have taken much longer without therapy. I highly recommend this to anyone who struggle from things that we commonly dismiss as just ‘first world problems’ — endless debts, shopping addiction, stress at work, people pleasing tendencies, and so on.

8. Good clothing and personal care
I almost did not want to buy a pretty floral dress I saw online until I remembered that a good wardrobe is not frivolity but a necessity. (Note that I say ‘good’, not ‘lavish’ or ‘excessive’). I believe in looking neat and decent without having to break the bank on haute couture fashion and expensive skin and hair care.

And oh, how can I forget this — a good laptop/smartphone and connectivity! It’s the digital age after all…and I am blogging this using an ancient iPhone4 that I never thought I would buy.

Do you have anything to add to the list?

One-Liner Wednesday: The Chicken Carcass

20140917-204327.jpgNever take the chicken carcass for granted because these are what I harvested from one bird’s remnants–stock enough for countless meals and fat for cooking!

This is part of LindaGHill’s One-Liner Wednesday:

Foray into Art Collection?

Last night I bought this piece of painting which I know close to nothing about. One that I am still trying to figure out.

I had been getting a little impatient with the plain walls at my dining and living halls so when I saw this hanging by a roadside stall at the touristy Batu Feringghi Night Market I decided to haggle for it. I am no art aficionado so I didn’t know what value to place on it but in the end MYR 120 (about USD 40) felt reasonable. It required no framing so I could have it hung and displayed right away.

I just realized there was no artist signature. All I know from the foreign worker manning the stall was that it came from Cambodia. I do not know what sort of paint was used, and the material it was painted on (definitely not canvas, though).

But it looks good to me. And it evokes a sense of relaxation in what seemed a rather grand setting — perhaps a cafe in an old, refurbished palatial mansion. There’s also an aura of mystery…this place seems to be out of bounds to the crowd depicted at the top portion of the painting. There also seems to be a suggestion of a contrast between the upper and middle class, the haves and have nots.

But I am still trying to make sense of the colourful ground, and the strokes of yellow which seem like rays of light. And the straight white-coloured line that started from the deck where the tables and chairs are placed. Viewed from a distance there is a three-dimensional effect to the painting.

I spent about 20 minutes looking at it after bringing it home, trying to make sense of it. Perhaps this could be the start of an interest in art.

Meanwhile if anyone could enlighten me as to what this painting is about that would be great.

Freedom to Love

“Freedom is the ability to pause.” – source unknown

Damn amygdala
And the failure that was me
To stop the primitive in its track.

Too many perceived attacks
Caused me to react
And hearts – including my own
To bleed, and crack.

My claims of love
Empty lip service
How could I love
And let my words
Pour out in torrents
Like a heavy nasty rain
Bringing forth a flood of sadness
I get drowned myself
In the end.

If a hug could tell you, and you, and you, and you
How sorry I am
It would be tight, long, moist with remorse
Resigned to damages done
And an unchangeable past
It would be warm with some strange comfort
That the villain of old…has awakened
I hope she hasn’t taken too much toll.

Those who hurt, hurt others
So they say
I had those inner landmines removed
The amygdala no longer reigns supreme
I seek freedom from me
Now I bow to choice
And it tells me to simply pause.

When I am at a standstill
That’s when I see you
And remember to love you
Despite me and you and everything in between.

Set for Life

In my own skin
Though in a swanky high rise
I live not.

The worthiness
Of being me
The one and only me
In my own very league
There’s no need for yardsticks.

The value
That I can bring
My inimitable unique selling point
The legacy
I can leave
As exclusive
As my finger print.

Know this
Don’t live the lie
The Joneses
Have their own battles to fight
Be free, be you
And you are
Set for life.

For the Love of Laughter

The ability to be funny and make others laugh is truly a gift. Laughter breaks the ice, and helps people to warm up to one another. It is even said to be the best medicine.

I love a good laugh anytime and sometimes fancy myself a funny person – as in I do make people laugh sometimes with some brilliant one liners or comments (do humour me a little). Sadly though I am not good at writing funny stories. Perhaps that depends on my mood too. I would love to be able to weave humour into my writings the way Sophie Kinsella does. I remember bursting out in laughter every so often when reading Confessions of a Shopaholic. The other two books I read that made me laugh a lot were Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, and Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness.

I enjoy bantering with my co-workers too, and even teasing my parents for a laugh (with due respect, of course). Among the best stand-up comedians I’ve watched are Joe Wong (“I grew up in China. Who wouldn’t?”) and Russell Peters. When I was younger and still into the television I used to enjoy the sitcom Friends.

I find that jokes come to me spontaneously, and perhaps I would one day actually write something that can make people laugh. But for now I am contented being the consumer of other people’s humour, and not the creator of humour. Ha ha.

This post is part of SoCS:

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True Leadership: Where Common Goals Triumph Over the Ego

At the company’s management forum today, one of the topics discussed was crucial conversations, during which the emphasis was on the importance of putting emotions and the ego aside to resolve conflicts.

Our Managing Director demonstrated exemplary leadership when during his wrap up speech, he openly commended a manager for disagreeing with him during an important project meeting, although some of her colleagues told her to just drop the matter because “he is the MD so what he says is always right!”. But she stood by her opinion and gave him her differing perspective on the project, an openness and honesty which he clearly appreciated.

Real leaders know that it is their job to drive common goals, instead of being driven by their egos.

Why I Love the JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur

If luxury equates warmth and comfort, as opposed to the pressure to look perfect and have it all together, JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur is an excellent place for some top-notch self pampering.

Arriving at the flagship hotel in the capital of Malaysia in my skinny jeans, gray long sleeved men’s T shirt, and sandals, I promptly had the cab and then hotel door opened for me, with a polite “Good afternoon Ma’am, would you like to go and check in and we will take care of your luggage for you?”

In the lift to go up to my 10th floor deluxe room, I bumped into hotel staff who helped me scan for access using my room key card and wished me a pleasant day as they got out at a lower floor. Entering the tastefully furnished room, a quick slide of the key into its slot and the lights came on, along with soothing instrumental music from the television as it showed JW Marriott commercials by default. It was only around 11.30 am, thanks to the early check in I was given–so I had one whole day of me to just relax and do whatever I wanted!

(To be continued)

One-Liner Wednesday- Worth is Absolute, not Relative

This world focuses so much on superficial foundations of personal worth–looks, wealth (your ‘net worth’), intelligence, achievements, popularity–that most people feel worthy only when they measure up; but the truth is all of us ARE worthy just because there is only one of each and every one of us and that we can offer something to the world that no one else can!

This is part of LindaGHill’s One-Liner Wednesday: