Bring It On!

The third day of 2015 has just dawned. The new year is young, and full of promise. Never mind the tragedies that marked the closing of its predecessor, the only way is to look forward and move on, for the time we have been given does not replenish itself.

My hope is alive, and my expectations are high. That this year will be better than the one before. Why? Because it will build on the foundation I have consciously worked on, and while the endeavour does not stop there will be fruit from last year’s effort to ease the journey ahead.

The sense of newness is palpable. I can imagine getting a new phone, and it will not be just getting a new phone because it brings along the smell of yet another fresh start, at another level. I can walk into my hairstylist’s and request a new colour or cut, and the difference I will see in the mirror is the catalyst for a newer perspective, an innovation of sorts.

I can clear my wardrobe, and gladly throw away items that have become too familiar, too old, too uninspiring. I look at the empty space the discarded old leaves behind, and my heart dances at the prospect of the new that will soon take the space.

I can hop into my car with the same passion and fire, but drive in a new direction with a new destination in mind.

My expectations are high– that there will be more strength, more love, more happiness, more giving, more listening, more acceptance. Less doubt, less judgment, less fear. Because all these are possible with a stronger heart.

Change is exciting, increase is exhilarating, embracing possibilities keeps the faith up because closed doors begin to become part and parcel of the journey, not the be all and end all.

At the cusp of 2015, my spirits are brimming. Bring it on!

This post is part of SoCS:
http://lindaghill.com/2015/01/02/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-january-315/

Goodbye, 2014

This will probably be my last post for 2014, because tomorrow I will be going up to Penang Hill for dinner, wine, endless conversation, and countdown to 2015 with two of my bosom buddies of (gasp) close to 20 years. It’s amazing how two decades have passed and we can still talk the way we did, and look the way we did when we first met.

So my annual reflection has to be done tonight. 2014 has been pretty stellar considering the mixed bag of challenges, discoveries, and victories it is. I can in all honesty say I have done my best with those 364 days, and since tomorrow will also be well spent, I guess I will have done justice to 2014 the best way I knew how.

Thank you, 2014, you’ve been stellar, and the foundation set should be enough for 2015 to be a thriving year. Since I wrote a post on the ten personal victories achieved in 2014, it is only befitting that I make a list of victories to aspire towards for 2015:

1. Conquering the New York City Marathon on the 1st of November 2015–by which I mean completing the entire 42 km in 4.5 hours or less. I will be training diligently for this one, for sure!

2. Pushing my boundaries professionally to see all my projects through, and to see their results with my very own eyes–even if this means working harder than I am used to, and working in ways I never thought I would, with people I never imagined I would work with, maybe even in places that never even crossed my mind.

3. Getting out of my shell personally, and being less reserved in reaching out to people and letting them know I care.

4. Spending more time outside–in natural surroundings, an interesting cafe, the golf course, or by the beach. This will take some effort because I love being indoors and love my apartment and my study. But every time I overcome the inertia to get myself outside I get rewarded with wonderfully heightened clarity and energy.

5. Improving my command of the Thai and German languages to the extent of being able to carry out a simple conversation with a native. Currently I am only capable of basic monologues.

6. Rekindling my prayer life and time spent reading God’s word. I have become somewhat of a complacent Christian recently, and my senses have been a bit dulled as to what the Holy Spirit may want to reveal to me, and the little epiphanies pointing to the interesting things God is orchestrating in my life! The Bible I bought in early 2014 looks brand new, a sign that I have not been reading it enough.

7. Writing better — the 200-plus posts on this blog I have managed to write have been a result of not being too attached to perfectionism, but at the same time I know I can’t let my writing deteriorate too much either. It’s time to go back to the basics of good writing — grammar, style, clarity, accuracy, showing not telling, imagery, appropriate use of vocabulary, and what not.

So there goes, my goals for 2015. Things that I articulate and write down tend to materialize, and since this is the first time I am making my list public, I guess the law of attraction should work even more strongly to make sure I accomplish all these seven things!

Here’s to 2015 — happy new year, everyone.

In Honour of Life: Ten Personal Victories in 2014

Even as I keep tabs on the news hoping to hear that the missing AirAsia plane has been found, I figure it is pointless to wallow in sadness and put everything else on hold. At the very least, the silver lining from this tragedy is the reminder that life can be snuffed out anytime, anywhere. So I want to honour this gift called life by living it out thoughtfully–enough to fully enjoy the moment, and yet without disregarding the future, uncertain though it may be.

When I was 22, in university and growing in my faith as a Christian, I started pondering the purpose of life. I asked the God with whom I was cultivating a relationship and I was certain this was the answer He gave me:”We are all here to make this world a better place for one another.” That’s it–making this world a better place, even if it means only my tiny sphere of influence–my class, at home, or my neighbourhood. It didn’t necessarily mean I had to save the world or a nation. So I started my quest to discover the ‘how’ for me–and as a fan of Malaysian social activist, Datuk Paduka Marina Mahathir, I soon discovered I had a passion for issues related to women and youth. Over the years I had somehow managed to reconcile my altruistic interests with the materialistic ones–enjoying life while making a contribution and difference in my small circle of influence.¬† So every year I would set and review my goals, and update them for a new year.

And the more I do the exercise every year, the more I experience firsthand that the more specific a goal is, the more likely it is to materialize. But I also learnt that being specific can be quite challenging–because knowing what we want often takes a lot of soul searching and thinking. It’s still an exercise I look forward to doing each year, though, because as Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” So in honour of this life I have been given, here’s the list of personal victories I achieved in 2014:

1. Stepping out of my comfort zone and overcoming self-consciousness to actually ASK for help and delegate things at work–The embarassment I felt before asking for help was actually quite unfounded because it wasn’t as if the things I was initiating were for my personal gains. They could have been my goals based on which my performance would be rated, but they were still things that would benefit the company and employees, and when things are achieved, the credit is always shared.

2. Travelling to some places I had wanted to visit–including going to New Zealand on my own to join a spiritual retreat at the beautiful Taupo.

3. Stepping out of my introvert shell to reach out to more people, especially at work–I stopped having lunch at my desk and started joining my colleagues for lunch regularly. It has certainly made the workplace a lot more fun!

4. Cutting down on Facebook drastically–this is a rather big achievement because I used to feel the urge to update so many things I did, and to just mindlessly scroll down my newsfeed to go through photos of what people ate for their lunches and dinners, or to read impassioned views of the latest political events, when I already had so much other information to deal with in my head. Without Facebook, my mind is clearer and I accomplish more important things in shorter times.

5. Learning Thai and German–two items on my ‘to-do someday’ list that I finally decided not to postpone anymore. I have acquired a very basic command of both languages so far so this is something I foresee doing for many more years to come–possibly even till when I am old and wrinkled!

6. Starting this blog–another ‘to-do someday’ item I finally decided to not postpone anymore. There will never come a day when I would have ‘enough’ free time to write a blog, so I might as well just start. And am I am glad I did!

7. Running and fund raising–this was not something I consciously planned to pick up, but I decided to jump at the chance when I found out that one could run the New York City Marathon 2015 for charity–so it was my passion for travelling and charity that led to my new-found passion for running. Now I am hooked on running because there’s just something inherently fulfilling about pushing and overcoming our own limits. Training for the marathon is a test of my physical limitations, whereas fund raising challenges my emotional limits–overcoming reservations to approach people to donate and learning that rejection is not personal when the prospects choose not to give. And of course, the joy when they decide to do so!

8. Turning a deaf ear to gossip–where I used to think lending a listening ear was the right thing to do when someone tells me something, suddenly idle talk about other people’s lives started¬† to feel so draining that I found myself feeling frustrated over the loss of precious time. I would have rather invested my minutes in a siesta! So alongside minding the things I say, I also decided to become more mindful as to what I choose to hear.

9. Identifying and overcoming a negative core belief about myself–this was the core and most important personal victory in 2014, because the beliefs we hold about ourselves are the foundation on which our entire life is built. The USD 150 or so I invested in the four enlightening sessions with the psychotherapist was the best investment I have ever made in myself. Once I understood why I felt the way I did about some things, and why did some things I did, I felt almost unstoppable! The saying that if you could kick the person who gives you the most trouble in the back, you won’t be able to sit for days is so true. So in other words, the four therapy sessions helped me get me out of my way–so over the last few months of 2014 I felt like almost nothing is impossible! Where I have been running, now I feel like I am soaring.

10. Making a simple but enormously helpful change to my diet–I stopped adding sugar to my morning coffee, and stopped having rice for lunch. The result was I no longer felt sleepy by mid morning and also post lunch, and found that my mind remained sharp even in the late afternoons. This benefit alone is awesome enough for me to want to do this for the rest of my life. Life is sweeter without sugar!

So with slightly over three days left before 2014 ends, and in honour of life as a gift, even as we hope and pray for those on board the AirAsia flight, I end this post with this quote by Seneca: “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

 

 

 

Consumed

Badge by Doobster @ Mindful Digressions

Badge by Doobster @ Mindful Digressions

I am so late for this week’s SoCS, but since it’s the last weekend of 2014, I decided it’s better to be late than to miss it. After all, SoCS is one of the best discoveries I made this year.

Sadly, though, my thoughts and emotions are now consumed with sadness because I logged into WordPress and read on my Reader that another airplane has gone missing…or more specifically, another Malaysian airplane has gone missing… this time it’s the AirAsia jet bound for Singapore from Indonesia. My heart goes out to the loved ones of all onboard. Co-incidentally, my mom was also scheduled to fly to Singapore from Kuala Lumpur this morning, also on AirAsia, so I was naturally anxious to find out if she had arrived safely. I called my brother and thankfully managed to confirm that.

Tragedies like these are grim reminders that bad fortune can happen to just anyone. What if it was the flight from KL to Singapore that had suffered that ill fate? And just two days ago, 26th of December 2014, we were remembering the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami that took so many lives 10 years ago–another tragedy close to home, because it also hit Batu Feringghi and Tanjung Bunga, the popular tourist area in Penang where I bought my first property. I remember my ex boss, who stayed (and still does) in the area telling us how she could, from her high-rise balcony, see bodies floating near the beaches.

Such sad news to end 2014 with, and I had planned to review the year and set my goals for 2015 after finishing this post. I guess I will proceed with my plan, albeit in a somber mood. I also can’t help but wonder if it was mere co-incidence that my country’s airlines are so ill-fated in 2014. I have so many trips lined up for next year, and suddenly I found myself feeling somewhat relieved that I would mostly be flying foreign airlines…like Dragonair to Hong Kong and Thai Airways to Japan and Europe. But thinking this way does not take away the sadness I feel over the latest missing airplane. Life has to go on, though, and I resolve to make the best of what I have, especially appreciating my loved ones, so that if I were to perish in such an unexpected manner, I would at least know I have no (or minimal) regrets.

This post is part of SoCS:
http://lindaghill.com/2014/12/27/socs-total-consumption/

Memory

A few months ago, I started using memory foam pillows. They are said to help us sleep better, correct our posture, and hence lead to better energy levels and mental focus — if I remember the label on the packaging correctly. Oh dear this sentence is contradicting. I am supposed to have better focus mentally and yet I doubt my ability to recall correctly. Haha.

But I liked them and found them comfortable so went out and got another two for my parents. Speaking of them, now I remember I wanted to discuss a holiday together with my mom. I don’t remember the last time I went on a proper holiday with them…it must have been when I was still a child. Looks like it’s time to make some memories again with them.

It’s already the 1st of November on my part of the world. Time surely flies…and my memory of starting this blog in May is still fresh and this year has felt pretty whirlwind with so many things to savor and experience.

I wish everyone an awesome final two months of 2014. Let’s make every moment count so at the end of it we can have some sweet, gratifying memories.

This post is part of SoCS:
http://lindaghill.com/2014/10/31/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-november-114/