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/

 

I Don’t Know Them, Yet I Trust Them

I want to bury myself amongst the musty and motionless occupants of my wooden shelves. Dust them off and watch them come to life again, finally able to fulfill their calling of transporting me into another world and another’s consciousness. I will give each of them the attention they deserve, getting acquainted with them from their facade, their first few words to me, maybe what others have said about them, and the brief attempts on their backs to summarize and lure me into all that they are. 

I will pick the one that gets me wondering the most and tuck it safely amongst all my essentials, so that I can feel its weight and sense its company as I head out yet again to yet another unknown place.

I will leaf through its pages as the plane bides its time, let it rest open on my chest as I fall asleep under the sun lulled by the sound of waves – and then curl up with it again as night begins to fall and I have retreated into my paid cocoon, the warm lighting promising yet another illuminating and illuminated night. Me in a strange place, getting transported into yet another strange place – by the sheer force of another person’s words and imagination.

I don’t know them, but I am trusting them to take me to unknown places from where I will be able to find my way back. 

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

How Do I Know if Your Promises Are True?

I dropped you a word from heaven
So that you would have a vision.

I bought you at a price 
Your days aren’t supposed to just go by.

I let you wade in some darkness
So that you would experience My faithfulness.

I planted in you a passion
So that you would pursue Me with abandon.

I hide from you my most intricate plans
Not to make you tip toe, uncertain
But to keep you fully immersed 
In our every moment together. 

I lay before you this narrow path
Because you are meant to be
Set apart. 

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

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/

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

Thrive, Not Survive: My Journey towards Nature

I wonder how people saw to their survival in the ancient age, without the modern trappings we have today. So many things have been created for convenience, but do we think enough about how sustainable it is to keep using disposable this and that, and buying products that are not only laden with chemicals but also come in non-biodegradable packaging that we simply throw away?

Many of us tend to see it as a way to save time and reduce hassle – after all, life in the digital age is fast-paced and competitive – so why bother reusing old things when we can easily replace them with new ones?

Yet I suspect one of the reasons why stress is such a big part of modern life – is because everytime we create waste and consume synthetic substances, deep down we know that we are putting our health, the environment and our future generations at risk – therefore our conscience gnaws at us, leading to subconscious negative energy and stress.

Maybe this is why I find it so therapeutic to go back to basics whenever I can. I have always enjoyed collecting old bottles and this year I finally did something about my long-held interest to experiment with DIY natural products. My journey began sometime mid-March, with some baking soda, extra virgin coconut oil, organic rice bran oil (I bought it because I wanted a healthy cooking oil with a high smoking point, the amazing benefits it has for my skin and hair were sheer serendipity!) organic castile soap, kaolin clay, and essential oils.

I started by making my own toothpaste and body wash, and to date the list of commercial products that I have replaced with my DIY natural alternatives are:

1. Toothpaste
2. Body wash
3. Facial toner
4. Facial moisturiser (though the replacement won’t really count as DIY, because I simply started using organic rice bran oil on my face!)
5.Makeup remover (also doesn’t qualify as DIY for reason similar to the one above)
6. Hair conditioner
7. Clothes detergent
8. Dish washing liquid

Next on my list should be my shampoo, though I am currently using a store-bought organic one.

So far it has been fun and rewarding. I love being able to reuse old bottles to store my homemade products. The organic apple cider vinegar works great as a toner, and the rice bran oil is the best moisturiser I have ever had. These two cost a lot less than the commercial skincare products I used to buy, so I look forward to the long-term savings. And it feels great washing my dishes, knowing that there will not be toxic chemical residues from the wash! Same goes for my laundry. And no more fluoride in my toothpaste!

This journey to go back to nature has convinced me that things and decisions made in the name of speed and convenience, more often than not, help us to merely survive, but not thrive.

I won’t be able to give up on all conventionally mass produced daily products. But one thing for sure: my quest for all things natural and organic will be a lifelong progress.

Survival