Waiting for My Bright Orange Mazda

When I was in primary school, my mom drove a bright orange Mazda hatchback. Everyday, after school had ended, my brother and I would hang around in the canteen waiting for her to come and take us home.

My brother, with his uniform shirt untucked and maybe one shoelace undone, would be up and about playing with friends or just doing, exploring something. Me, the more introverted one, would tend to sit on one of the long wooden benches, facing the school’s main gate so that I could take note of every car that came through. And because my mom was a high school teacher, we often ended up being the only ones left waiting in the canteen, because her school ended later than ours.

I remember sighing, even if only on the inside, when yet another car had come into the school compound but it was still not the one I had been waiting for: mom’s bright orange Mazda. But of course, she always turned up, without fail. Or on some other days, it would be dad who would be taking us home, depending on their work schedules.

I sure did a lot of waiting as a child – waiting for my parents to fetch me home from music lessons (dad was usually late!), tuition classes, the library, school activities. Waiting for meals to be ready. Waiting for grandpa and grandma to arrive.

But little did it cross my mind that time, that even as I grew up, waiting was one thing that I would not be exempt from.

 I still wait for many things and many dreams now. In many instances, I even make conscious decisions to wait. 

It is not always fun to wait – but at least I have learnt to be like my smart little brother in his messy uniform – and take waiting seasons as opportunities to explore, have fun and do nice things that do not require waiting.

Till my bright orange Mazda arrives.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/waiting/

 

Careful…at the Expense of Creative

I just came back from a 2-day creative writing workshop. The piece I wrote during the final exercise came out flat, unimaginative and forgettable. 

I’d never seen myself as a creative writer to begin with, but now I suspect that years being in the corporate world, where the things I write have to be carefully thought through and conform to what is deemed professional, diplomatic and acceptable within the kind of image and messages that the company wants to portray – have dulled my creativity as a writer even more. 

I have forgotten how to show and not tell. How to be sensorial and lead my readers to see,hear, touch, taste and smell the story that I want to tell. Until this afternoon I was not aware that a story has to begin with a conflict, followed by the process dealing with the conflict, and end with the resolution of the conflict. 

I don’t even remember what the stories I want to tell are – having conditioned myself to focus on writing things to influence perceptions in specific ways. I have random ideas in my head – things I want to write mingling with the things I do not want but have to write, and they are screaming to find their places in the story where they belong. 

So I have carved out the time and space for me to just read all the books I want to read; and to pen down the thoughts floating in my consciousness. To explore and play with words, phrases, sentences that will add dimension to my writings. 

I want to reconnect with my creative voice, and discover myself all over again as a writer. 
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/careful/

Procrastination

Procrastination refuses to let me go.

He tempts me, distracts me with sights, sounds, thoughts, taste. 

He detracts and not add value to me, why do I still keep him around?

Because like poufy fluffy cotton candy, he feels good at the moment. Gooey sweetness melting in my mouth, and for that time it’s just me and the sweet nothingness. 

Then minutes pass and the last morsels begin to sicken me. The sweetness departs leaving behind nothing but inertia. I gather my mass and chalk up some momentum, and all is well till the next passing candy cloud comes.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/value/

When Passion Isn’t Practical

Reblogging this post to respond to today’s prompt, “Passionate” 

People, Places, and Perspectives.

It’s great to have passion. Fiery ideas that change the world often start burning in someone’s belly. Passion turns hard work into fun and challenges into adrenaline-fueled adventures. When you have passion it suddenly becomes easy to do the right thing and to fight. Character becomes effortless.

But what do you do when the thing that makes you tick and the thing that gives you your paycheck are no longer one and the same?

It takes uncomfortable effort and difficulty to force fit a square peg into a round hole and then keep it there. But when the right fit is still elusive life as it is goes on, so that has to be done.

You’re square. Your heart does not beat for the round hole. Your angular match has yet to be found.

This is when you summon your character in order to deliver in the midst of…

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That Little but Formidable Red Dot Down South

I am a Malaysian who sincerely admires our Southern neighbour, the tiny island state called Singapore – who is somehow always one step ahead, one pace faster. The bustling city state that used to be a part of my country till it was expulsed in 1965 due to ideological differences between its ruling party and Malaysia’s.

With a small disparate population, and even fewer resources – the tiny newly independent nation had to find its own way to survive.

And when you are small and vulnerable with so many disadvantages, how do you overcome the odds? Singapore ended up becoming an example of how a nation can thrive despite it all. Having traveled there regularly for work for the past one year, I observe a culture that I am convinced has enabled the meteoric rise of this country from 1965:

1. Wise picks of battles to fight
When your resources are limited you have to decide carefully where you want to focus them on – whether it’s your energy or money. I have yet to come across any colleagues in my Singapore office sweating the small stuff, for example worrying about form and not substance. Though Singapore is now way past its past struggles, the wise pragmatism seems to have remained. 

2. An absence of excessiveness
There is a fine line between making tremendous effort in the name of excellence and trying hard to impress. The city looks impressive, no doubt – but that is just the inevitable result of thoughtful and pragmatic planning done with the intention of inspiring the confidence of its own people and the foreign people whose skills, talent and investment would be needed to help Singapore prosper. Not to impress and boost fragile egos. No wonder I have yet to come across any kitschy or tacky looking buildings or monuments in Singapore. It is quite simply the epitome of elegance.

3. A strong focus on developing its uniqueness, and looking to others not to compare, but to learn and find strengths to leverage
This is closely related to picking battles wisely. Of course many would argue that Singapore is a competitive place – but we tend to forget that being competitive does not necessarily mean comparing with others. It is when we give our all to make the most of what we have that we become a force formidable enough for others to reckon with – and by then we find ourselves in our own league. I posit that Singapore does not focus so much on competing as much as it focuses on leading and leveraging its neighbours’ strengths. Any wonder why so many of my country’s best and brightest end up happily heading down south?

I love my country and I know Singapore has its own flaws. But there’s so much to learn from our excellent neighbour down south.

So this is how I have experienced Singapore. I would love to hear what you think, whether you are Singaporean or not.

South

Handmade Gifts Come from the Heart

I had trouble recalling the gifts I received that were not store bought, till I started to look around my study. The origami rose I got from my friend for this year’s birthday lies on my open book shelf, idle before two mini Barbie dolls that are leaning against the wall. That’s one! I also received a self-made birthday card from a colleague. Well she used her computer to type the words and printed it out on a piece of paper which she folded in four – so that counts. I also have a lovely pink flowery handsewn pouch given by another friend who has a very talented mom. The pouch was made by her mom, and all of us who went to her housewarming party last year got one each. It’s sitting on my desk right next to me as I type this, and so is the pom-pom hairclip I received from the students of the school that my company sponsored for the Young Enterprise program. It’s a program where high school students tried their hand at entrepreneurship, selling items they manufactured on their own from scratch. The hairclip, among a few other things, were given to me and my colleagues who acted as their advisors as a ‘thank you’ gesture.

I also received a poem when I was in university, eloquently written, printed on sugar paper, and sneaked into my note book during a lecture when I wasn’t looking. I did not quite know how to respond then, but looking back, it did make me feel pretty special.

So which one is the best? These very special things came from very special people, so that alone, I think, renders comparison irrelevant.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/by-hand/

 

 

 

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/by-hand/

Through the Eyes of a Loving Grandfather

Head of dark, thick hair
Curly lashes flutter like butterfly wings
Round eyes twinkling like stars
She’s just learning to speak
And making demands of me!

“Grandpa, make sure you love me lots
And most of all.”

What a mammoth expectation
But it feels as light as
Her tiny weight
As she bounces on my lap.

I nod agreeably, conspiratorially
And say yes, indeed
I would love her
More than the rest.

My daughter’s daughter
My second chance to love
To care.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/reverse-shot/