: where your heart is, there your treasure will be :

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Living deeper, if not longer


Somewhere along the past few busy months, I found a torn piece of notepad paper stuck on my travel toothpaste whilst decked in a hotel bathrobe, brushing my teeth and running through key messages for the day's media interview. Some toothpaste was caked on the slightly wet paper, but the words of a poem I had hastily scrawled were clear:
 
"I loved her
Not for the way she danced with my angels
But for the way the sound of her name
Could silence my demons."
 
- Christopher Poindexter -
 
Despite being late (as always), I allowed myself to stop for a minute and read the poem out loud, letting the words curl on my tongue. Letting it make full sense. I remembered writing those beautiful words down in the airport when I saw it on my Instagram feed, because it was as if he took the words right out from my heart. Of course it was written for the girl he loved, but I knew what he meant. Because the man I love has that exact effect on me.
 
Sappy. I'm so sappy right now, I know. :)
 
I turned 27 just last week and through the simple affairs of celebrating yet another year, my heart was bursting. It wasn't just a reminder on birthdays when we take stock of how blessed we are - for me, it was simply because the past year was a pretty tough one.
 
Last year when I was celebrating my birthday in Laos, I was so excited for what is to come. I was entering a new job - torn between two offers, I had settled for one that paid lesser and a lower position, but ultimately happy with what I had picked. And God answered Matt and my prayers for a place of our own at the beginning of the year, eventhough just two months before signing the S&P I was convinced we will never be able to buy a property thanks to the escalating prices. But God is a miracle-working God :) My 26th year was a crazy, chaotic mess of visiting five new cities that we've pre-booked earlier, adapting to an exciting job that I have grown to really enjoy (although no denying it has been extremely hectic), opportunities that I believe this job has propelled me to be better in what I do career-wise and more importantly as an individual, and many personal milestones I treasure dearly.
 
But like I said, also tough. If I can be honest, last year was the year that we seriously cut down on some luxuries. I was kinda saving from scratch; it was painful, yet humbling, to realise I've taken some luxuries for granted ever since I started working even from college days (a working college student can really enjoy life, I realised that now! I'm gonna encourage my kids to work part-time next time!). Traveling was one I had to reluctantly let go. One thing I can say from this experience is that empathising with others is one thing, but experiencing it for yourself is another - and it is a good ground for faith-building, too. Because God always provides. Always. :)
 
During the past year, I've had some nights lying in bed just worrying. Matt is just the total opposite of me. Not that he doesn't worry. But for those who only know him for his poker-face clown side of him, he does have a serious side to him. And he calms me in his ever gentle assurance that not only God will see us through, we are in this together. He listens, patiently I must add, he wipes my tears; he tells me everything is going to be ok.
 
And oh, he must be gloating if he reads this, to see me admit that he is right. But he is :) Sometimes I doubt him. 'Oh, he's just saying it', my doubtful heart pounded inside. But the thought of him, and of us, doing this together, silenced the fear and demons in me. In Coco Chanel's words, Matt made me see that there are people with money, and there are people who are rich. And we are rich - rich in faith, and so rich with the love we get from others. I can't even begin to say how God had provided for us through the care others unknowingly have shown. And things have picked up too!
 
In short? Sure, it was pretty tough, but it was a pretty awesome year too :)
 
My boyfriend always celebrates our birthdays not just for a day, but a month. So today, he surprised me, his 'small girl' he so often calls me because sometimes I act like I'm still 7, with a trip to the Farm in a City. Just because I was always going around petting any animals I see :p Haha! I had a fun time with him today and after seeing me touching prairie dogs and skunks and baby goats, he said he was happy to see a huge, perpetual grin on my face, just like a small girl.
 
But Matt, I bet you didn't know, it wasn't the furry animals that kept the smile on my face.
 
It was you. :)
 
I love you.
 

Today :)
 
* * * * *
 
Some random screenshots :)
 
My favourite picture of all - Summer was
all anxious to have some cake too!
 
(L-R) Birthday surprises by the owner of Moon Tree47;
colleagues at the E&O Hotel, and another bouquet from Matt

Cupcakes from Rachel of Bachoven :) I'm always very spoilt by her!


*loves*
 
There's always a first to everything - sold
my first house at an E&O private sales event :) stoked!

Matt loves playing with food while he prepares them!

Comfort food during work travels - some things will
always be a comfort away from home for me :)

Inspiration from E&O's show units for ours in future :)

I love that my job allows me to meet people from all walks of life :)
 
These two here are owners of an organic restaurant in Penang,
sharing their story on what inspired them to go organic.

A very personal weekend for me at the WoW 'Women of Worth' retreat.
A reminder to me that as much as it takes strength and independence to be a woman of today,
sometimes it also takes courage to let my guard down.
And sticking to my habit of writing notes to Matt with hotel notepad.
 
* * * * *
 
 
 
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Sunday, June 09, 2013

Taking stock of dreams in colour


I find such solace with words. I don't claim to be a good writer, but I love it best when I'm able to pen my thoughts. Here is an edited excerpt that I had randomly saved on my mobile during a trip, at the advent of this touch-screen era :)

* * * * *

May 2013, somewhere in Laos

A little white stray is sitting by my feet, waiting for me to conveniently drop a crumb or two from my bread. I look across the table and see Matt staring absent-mindedly at the Mekong river in front of us. He stared at the brown trail of river and green plains and lifted his phone for a picture, before shooting me a  smile when he noticed my gaze. My mum, who joined us for this trip to Laos, was smiling as she texted my father who was away in Europe for a holiday. 30 years of marriage and that was the first time they were apart from each other. 20 days must be a long time for them.

For the first time in the past couple of months, I felt the knots at the back of my neck and shoulders started to loosen a little. I won't deny it, I was a ball of wrecked nerves for the past few weeks and even for this trip. It was nothing but busy, busy, busy, prepping for India and Laos in the middle of the crazy workload, interviews and errands. And the worries. Oh, the unnecessary worries that managed to make its way into my head eventhough time and time again, everything still turned out fine in the end. But it sure felt good that finally, right there across the muddy Mekong river with my loved ones, I could feel the worry dissipating.

Every year, besides celebrating another year God blessed me with, I do the boring thing by taking stock and noting down the milestones and lessons I've learnt for the past one year. Brooke Davis, my all-time favourite sexy TV character had this line in One Tree Hill, " 'It's the good girls who keep diaries. The bad girls never have the time.' Me? I just wanna live a life I'm gonna remember, even if I don't write it down." So maybe I'm being boring but it's nice to remember and take stock of all my blessings. And as I do that at this very moment, I realised that if I could have a key takeaway from my 25th year, it would be to never, ever waver on my priorities.

I closed the last few pages of my 25th chapter with one of the most important lessons in my life, by my standards and of course since I've only lived this far. :) I guess I wouldn't go into the details of this very personal account but the lesson I derived from this is that: We all have our priorities, and our priorities differ from each other. I knew what my priorities were, but the true test comes only when your priorities are laid side by side with both wrapped in nice, glittering wrappers. But beneath the exterior, one of these choices will be what I would deem "my priorities", the other would simply be "not quite my priorities, but oh how it would look so good on me". Both are laced with the promise of better things ahead, but one of it will involve compromising on my priorities, and ultimately, my happiness. I know it sounds so deep but it's really that simple. When the things that matter to me are the firsts in my life, others needn't matter anymore. I will be happy in the end even if I end up with less of the tangibles. God loves to ever so subtly, ever so simply, sneak in life lessons in the most ordinary moments. Because it was through that moment of having choices, that I clearly saw, what was important to me.

And I'm glad I picked that choice, eventhough the other would have looked so good on me. Oh, it really would have. But I am at peace with my choices that I have made :)

So I stepped into my 26th year cautiously optimistic. "Cautiously optimistic" is a term I use very often while drafting financial news releases on the company's outlook for the year. When the company is doing well yet we are mindful of a tough year ahead that is wrought with challenging market environment and weaker consumer sentiment. We have faith in doing well through the year but sometimes it's good to be on your toes.

Yeah, that's exactly my sentiments. I am very happy with where I am now because I've been so blessed, but a little part of me is so nervous about what is there to come. New job, new colleagues, a whole new level of commitment, a new lifestyle to adapt to... so much have changed in just a few months! But during the nights I lie in bed feeling grateful but anxious, I truly feel that amidst the changes, my support system remains constant. And that's an assuring thought.

Well, we'll see! Almost 6 more months till the year ends. We shall see how life spans out. However it turns out, I will be cautiously optimistic; I will be living it out with bated breath for the new things coming ahead. :)



I dream in colour. Always have, always will. And you're part of my colourful dreams, Poofy...
* * * * * * * * *

Some memories to commemorate turning 26 :)

 
Am happy to have spent the few days prior to my birthday at a trip in Laos, stopping by the small towns of Vientiane, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. I've really grown to love longer trips where I have the luxury of time to relax and explore; whirlwind weekend trips no longer interest me as much especially to new places I've never been before... but trips are trips, and any trip is good!


While I was taking a nap in the afternoon, Matt went to a local bakery chain that was famous in Laos and Vietnam to get chocolate tarts and delivered it to the restaurant we were going to have dinner that night. He obviously got brownie points from my mum since she was gushing at how sweet he was :p My boyfriend definitely knows how to play his cards very well... since he got me very smitten too! ;)


Dinner at Makphet, a restaurant run by Friends International that offers local Lao cuisine with a Makphet twist. We had wanted to try it out as it was in support of a good cause - training street kids and providing them opportunities to learn. Food are highly recommended!



 Threesome birthday celebrations :)



And what will a girl do without her girlfriends :)


Every year, we celebrate getting old together. But this year was somehow exceptionally special to me. Maybe because we have achieved so much within a year. Or maybe because we are secretly proud of each other. I sure as hell am proud of who you are now, Ah Ger! :)



My first ever Mexican dining experience, complete with a chef trying to be as Mexican as possible with quirky Mexican taco names and a paper moustache :) Thank you for always being so sweet!


Thank you for all that effort, sweetie :)
(from pre-meal dessert, main meal, and apple-filled desserts, you make my birthdays so special every year!)
The baby of the family turned a year older too :)
  


Matt also turned a year older, and was teased endlessly because it's his last year in his twenties! His colleagues planned a McD birthday party for him because he is like a big kid. How apt. :p


And I attempted to cook for him too, but mine was wayyy simpler - 2 types of pesto pasta, clam chowder (from the can, but still!), and the highlight of the dinner was his Bacon Cheesecake baked by my lifesaver, owner of Bachoven.com - so grateful for Rachel's awesome baking skills! Last year Matt had stumbled upon bacon cheesecake pictures on the Internet and had made a passing statement that it would be heavenly to have a bacon cheesecake. I've never heard of that combination before so needless to say I didn't even know how that would taste like. So I figured I shouldn't be a hero to even attempt at baking it, and I should turn to professional help!


The results: smooth cheese texture and base, with bacon bits sprinkled at the top. And don't get me started on the bits of bacon in the cheese cake because just thinking about it makes me crave for some, like, now. (And that's not very helpful at midnight).


Some travels thrown in for measure :)
 
Got all excited going on a cruise :)
 

Street food are really always the best! Thoroughly enjoyed the sticky rice, fried chicken and Thai chilli served at this roadside stall in Krabi!
(thanks for introducing me to that sticky rice and the awesome chilli OMG orgasmic!)

 
Captain's Gala Dinner night was truly a night to remember. Laughing at overdressed and of course the underdressed guests, laughing at people's antics, laughing at ourselves! Thank you for the memories :)
"Hey Juuuuuude, don't make it baaaad... OII! Ngo hoi chi sor sin arrr!" LOL!!
 



Namaste, India!! :) Every trip is unique, but India was definitely one-of-a-kind for many interesting reasons. And Taj Mahal is a beauty! Another trip to fill my photobooks! :)


Dancing at the Taj <3>


And in loving memory of Aunty Ai Siam and Anny... you have been a blessing.

"...this was her time
this was her dance
She lived every moment
Left nothing to chance
She swam in the sea
Drank of the deep
Embraced the mystery
Of all she could be
This was her time...

- 'This Is Your Time', Michael W. Smith -







 


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Monday, December 31, 2012

Bidding adieu to a tableau of smiles and tears

Over some coffee with a colleague just this morning, our conversation, from agreeing earnestly that we should not be working on NY's eve to his girlfriend's choice of bridesmaids, naturally digressed to the new year looming just less than 12 hours ahead sparked by an article I was reading.

He had spotted me poring over The Edge just before we got to talking, and had peered at me amused, "Hmm. I thought you were only interested in The Edge for Christmas present wrappers... I didn't know you actually read it! Isn't it all about business and boring shares?" To which I had, quite excitedly, showed him some articles which weren't just about 'business and boring shares'. Oh goodness. I am such a nerd.

Anyway I had pulled out the lifestyle section of the paper, Options, to show him one of my favourite column. "Markets: Cultural commodities & consuming passions" is definitely not about commodities like gold or copper, in this context since Edge is a business paper. Don't quite know how to describe the column but anyhow I enjoy it on my weekly Monday reads. In today's article, the writer talked about the ending year and a new one ahead, reflecting on two questions which 'requires you to examine what truly made you happy this year, while keeping in mind the most trying time you might have had'.
  • What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
  • What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
 It was a good morning chat with my colleague but our conversation had a lasting imprint in my head as I went about my day. I hadn't quite know how to answer those questions when we exchanged thoughts. I couldn't! I can't quite put a finger to one, single thing, whether happy or challenging. 2012 was a year fraught with highs and lows, as how everyone's year would be, and as how every year will be. I had been very, very happy over so many moments. Moments with Matt, how we have grown as a couple. When my sister got married, the happiest look on her face. When my brother graduated with first class honours and was sent for training in Europe on his second month of work - I was a proud sister. And yes, even work moments; when email recognition affirmed me of jobs done well.

What about the challenging times? Oh there were plenty, too. Moments when tears threatened to spill and I had to literally clench my jaw to steel myself (because I hate crying in front of people). When tears already spilled (that's when I hate myself for caving in). When doubts and worries cast its net over Matt and I, over our families, over our work and relationships. So when I answered, "hmm.. single best thing... that's hard.. maybe just knowing that through the challenging times, I have still pushed on, still sustained by God's grace..?" My friend had whacked me in the arm and said, "Tskk! Such a PR answer!"
(

(*Unrelated note, what is it with people who just take my answers as a "PR answer" just because I am in PR?! I had meant it! And that was not the first time!)
(
After much thought I still can't pin it down to one defining event for both questions, but I now know my answer:
  • the single best thing: the positivity I had this year, because it helped me breeze through the year!
  • the most challenging thing: letting others put a benchmark over me, believing their judgment on me.

It wasn't an easy year. Everyone have their set of challenges; I had mine too. I remember entering 2012 tired and jaded. Hopeful, yes, but mainly just tired; perhaps even a little sad, I don't quite remember why now. I held that attitude for about a month till a CSR event in late January where I met a 17-year-old boy who has thalassemia. I had to look for him at the hospital to pass something and I was looking for a teenager, but when I was introduced to him, I had to suppress a gasp: he was no taller than a 7-year-old and look like one, frail and sickly. But his eyes shook me the most... he looked like he had given up hope. He looked like he didn't care what I was about to hand him, and even after I told him what it was, he offered me a forced smile without a word, as if his eyes were taunting me, "...and how can this help me?"
All through the event ceremony, I couldn't focus. I kept thinking about him, and I texted Matt about the boy, and said, "...at 17, my biggest worry was National Service and getting enough money for missions trip. At 17, he is fighting to survive."

I think that was the defining moment for me, amongst many. That turned my life the other way round. I had so much to be grateful for! I know, this is such a cliché story, nothing new. Girl gets touched at CSR event - in PR, I would know this won't make news in the editor's eyes. But it changed me. Every time something shitty came my way, sure, I complained and I ranted; cried a little, but I also told myself, 'alright, rant over. Snap out of it and make a change'. And I can safely say, this positivity, this gratefulness to God, has sustained me through the lows. When I really think about it, I really felt like I had breezed through the year, by God's grace, albeit the many, many challenging bits, simply because of one thing: assurance. Assurance that I will be fine at the end of the day.

I have learnt, and accepted, so much about myself this year. Learning about myself is one thing; learning to accept who I am or have grown to be is a totally different thing. Through the course of work, and some friendships, we all meet people who spurs you on, but we also meet people who are condescending, who has a sharp tongue and challenges you, not in a good way. I think that's the challenging part for me - dealing with people. When they don't just doubt you, but they say it to you face to let you know they don't think you can make the cut. Maybe my nonchalant face may not show it, but I realised I can take a challenge. The only thing is, at times it takes me a while to realise, hey, don't wallow in the judgment that they have passed on you, Esther! So he said you are not experienced enough to handle that - prove it to him. And by getting myself out of that rut, I did prove to many. Those were not big achievements, but they have humbled me to know that it was all by God's grace, and also a lesson to be confident in who I am. It has taken me a while to fully be comfortable with myself, to accept my quirks, my habits and flaws and accept me for me. Not there yet and quite far from it, but I'm workin' on it.

I'm not sure how or where I am counting down to the new year tonight yet, but I can say I will be happily doing so, for it has been a good year. :) And no matter how you would answer these 2 questions, or how your story for 2012 span out to be, I hope it has been a great one, and here's to greater things ahead.

2013, I have big expectations of you. :)

Blessed new year!
 
 



















Love,
Esther


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Monday, October 29, 2012

When ice cream doesn't make things better anymore.

I'm generally a pretty positive person. Sure, I have my fair share of complaining and ranting, but at the end of the day, I have motivations or internal pep talks going in my head that will tell me to push on. That better things are comin' right up. That God knows the reason behind the happenings. That no biggie, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

I really do believe what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. I mean, really. Shit is prone to happen, so let's get on with it, even after a good cry.

But today, I don't know what is it. Maybe unknowingly, disappointment crept in without me noticing until it suddenly just hits me with an overwhelming BAMM. Or maybe it's just sheer exhaustion of an annoyingly over-positive facade that adversely, makes me vulnerable than ever.

I just sat there and let it all flow down.
Let it all flow away.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Words.


 
At a secondhand bookstore in Cambodia recently, I bought myself quite a few books at a fraction of the price sold here in Malaysia. Those books were the very reason of my overweight luggage, I'm quite sure, but nevertheless, am very happy with my buys, especially a book by Tony Parsons -  I love his books!

His writings always touch me; its raw honesty tugs at my heart. After reading a few of his books now, I see a trend in his style. His stories often feature Asian characters, and mostly about relationships. Perhaps that's why I love reading them. And the few books that I've read, have had characters that cheat on their partners.

"My Favourite Wife" gave me a few late nights recently; a chapter a night ended up more than it was meant to be. If I could get into the story, I would just to yank the guy hard in his ears. I knew where the story was leading to; he was going to cheat! I felt like shouting at the characters, STOP! Stop where you are! You're gonna cheat. Those innocent talks, those visits with seemingly pure intentions, it's just going to lead you astray because you're clearly not strong enough!

But he still cheated, and me being the world's biggest sap, cried reading the book. -_-"

I guess I felt so... affected, because just recently a friend admitted to me that he had cheated on his girlfriend. He was remorseful, and he ended it, but he also ended it with his girlfriend who never knew it in the first place. And I remembered asking him, "why? Why did you cheat in the first place? And well, if you've regretted what you did, then perhaps you could just shut up about it and make it up to her by giving your best now?"

And he said, "You were the one who told me, no one wakes up to an affair, Esther. I never intended for it to happen. But things happened anyway. I'm sorry. But eventhough she didn't know, I couldn't lie to her. I still love her, but maybe the love has become different."

"But why? Why did you do it in the first place?"

"Because it's easy to cheat, Esther. Simple as that. It's very easy to look at her and feel like I've found the one. And then I turn around and maybe I'm not so sure."

And despite being sad that they had not make it in the end, I knew, my friend was somewhat right. It is very easy to cheat. Easier than we all think. I don't judge him for what he did; I know him as a person and although what he did was not right, it did not make him a bad person. We could all wish that we will stay loyal to our partners, and them to us, but... he's right. Simple as that. It's so easy to want more that what we have. Sometimes there are no reasons to things. 

They just happen.

I hope they both get through this. I hope hearts will heal with time. :/


* * * * * *

You find the one that obliterates all the rest and it immediately solves all problems, it resolves everything and puts an end to all the wanting, because once you start the wanting, it's never enough until your heart stops beating, and there can be no rest and no peace and no real happiness. All you had to do was to find the one that will blind you to the rest of the world.

* * *

"Don't stop loving me," he begged her. "Please don't stop loving me,"
"Maybe it just wears out," she said. "You and me. Everybody. Maybe you just use it up, wear it out. I didn't feel that we were worn out. You and me, Bill. I loved you. You were the man I wanted to spend my life with. That's corny, isn't it? That's stupid."
"But maybe it just changes so much that we all end up married to strangers," she said. "Total strangers. And if you're lucky, you like them. Even love them. But you can't pretend that it's the same person you married."
"Marriage starts off as a love match and ends up as - I don't know what it is - an economic partnership," she said. "A home. A place to raise children. It starts as a love affair and ends up as a family," She looked at him quickly, as if she was afraid he would miss the point. "That doesn't mean I stopped loving you. But I love our daughter in a different way, in a bigger way, and I am letting you stay because of her. ... I feel like teaching you what it feels like. Shall I do that, Bill? Shall I find someone and teach you how it feels?" She looked at him as if something had suddenly occurred to her. "Why did you stop loving me?"
"I never stopped loving you."
"What's really funny about you, about all you men, is that you think you're the only one," she said. "The only one with choices."
He lowered his head and she took him in her arms, but she did not hold him tightly, and her body was tense and trembling, as fragile as a Double Fortune wine glass. They lay down on the bed, and they cried together at how the familiar body beside them had suddenly been changed for all time.

* * *


Bill sat up front and stared at the crowds. And that was when he saw them. His wife and the man. They were at a window seat in the Long Bar.
Becca and Dr. Sarfraz Khan. ... They were sitting on opposite sides of the table, leaning across, Khan talking urgently and Becca listening, his wife just listening.
And he knew that she was right - there are always options, there are always options for all of us. And for the first time Bill saw that it wasn't the seeking and straying and coming apart that was touched by magic, but the staying together.

* * *


It was never meant to be this way. He had thought that he could somehow stand back from the thing they shared, as if what he thought of as the real part of his life - Becca and Holly, family and home, wife and child - could remain untouched by his feelings for JinJin Li.
He had been wrong.
Now the evidence had been reduced to the two surviving photographs. The passport photo. The picture of them dancing on the boat. He wasn't going to keep them forever, just for a little while, and when they were gone there would be nothing to show that they had ever met, apart from what they carried inside.
Perhaps the thing that killed his father would one day come for him. In fifty years, or next week. It did not matter. What did they call it? Oh yes. Putting your affairs in order.
He would do it. He would put his affairs in order. One day. But he couldn't do it yet. Not yet. He couldn't do it yet.
Bill walked to the lift and pressed the call button. The lift came and he stood there staring at it. The doors closed as he turned and went back into his office, where he fed the last two photographs into the shredding machine.
You have to remember the bad times, he thought. That's the only way to get through it. That's the only way to go on. You don't remember the good times. You deny them. You forget them. That's how you get over it. That's how you carry on with your life.
The passport photo. Gone. The dancing picture. Gone. Every trace of her and them was now destroyed. It was the only way.
Remember the bad times, Bill thought.

* * * 

He saw her one last time.
She looked too ordinary to be JinJin Li. Surely an ordinary woman could not have been the cause of all that wild happiness, of all that misery and upheaval and pain in so many hearts? Surely it would have to be someone very special to do all that?
And so it was really her.
The glow had gone, or the glossiness of youth, or the magic, or whatever it had been. Maybe it had never been there in the first place, only in his eyes. Perhaps it was only there, that magic light of love, because he wanted and needed it to be. But now he saw her with the light extinguished and she was an attractive Chinese woman in her thirties, no more and no less, and she was getting older, and none of it was very complicated.
And here was the funny thing - as he saw her ordinariness, as he registered that she was just another human being trying to make her way in the world, trying her best to look nice for her new man and for herself, Bill Holden still loved her - or at least he still carried the love that remains when love has died, and he always would.
But she was not for him and he was not for her.

From "My Favourite Wife", Tony Parsons


* * * * * *

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

To all our tomorrows



I laid on the green grass stretched beneath me, ignoring its soft, somewhat annoying prickles as the ends pressed against my bare arms and neck. You stirred beside me in your sleep, and I quickly turned to my side and closed my eyes, pretending that slumber is still heavy on my eyelids; but my heart pounding fast. I parted my mouth leaving it slightly ajar, letting the breathlessness ease through my mouth. That's how you make me feel. That's how you make me feel, still. Breathless. Excited. Contented. Suddenly it didn't matter that we were away in a foreign land, where we explored every nook and cranny with a map in hand, and laughed at the characters that brought this strange city to life. Nor did it matter that we spent our lazy Saturdays sleeping in the garden and doing absolutely nothing, "wasting away a bright, sunny day", our grandmothers would have said. Two lives, whimsical in our own ways, meshed up with bouts of childlike, wide-eyed wonder and tinges of frowns only an adult can comprehend. We laid still side by side. And then, in your sleep, you turned and cupped me in an embrace. And when your hands found mine and my fingers laced between your tanned ones, the flutter in my heart whispered back, "it's ok not to have it all figured out... when you make me feel this way."
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Monday, June 25, 2012

Stirring me out of complacency


I was recently invited by a blogger friend to the launch of Topshop's Personal Shopping Service event. Was really disappointed to turn it down due to prior commitments because it's not often I get to go as guest as opposed to the usual PR-back scenes job of mine. My friend did however said somewhere along the lines of asking me to blog more often and post more (cute) pictures (of myself) and juicy details of my life, because who knows, I could be "spotted" and be a famous blogger someday!

Sounds funny but I don't think she was kidding. Anyhow, looking at my blog... we all know that will never happen! ;) But even if I don't find the time to blog much anymore and would rather do other things than blog, I must admit that blogging is one of my rare outlets for me to write freely, sans the serious tones of business news releases or fancy schmancy verbiage of features and seasonal cosmetics news releases I churn out regularly. It's a place where I record memories; just my stories, what's happened, pictures and self-cryptic captions... and somewhere I can look back and reminisce.

So even if entries are sporadic, I shall keep blogging for memories' sake! :)

(And much has happened - here goes one of those entries bombarded with a tonne of pictures!)

2011, as eventful as it was, went by ever so quickly, and 2012 even quicker. Never cease to amaze me how turning the pages of a calendar every month has become faster and faster! Short of another week and there we are at July.

Work has been crazy. Learning every single day. It has been challenging but God's hand is definitely working although there were times I questioned why am I placed here. Past couple of months have been extremely daunting too as my boss has officially left in April, and at the same time, my teammate was on maternity leave. It was super exhausting - it came to a point my prayer to God every morning was just to give me strength to get through one day at a time. In the interim, reporting directly to the GM can be pressuring but am seizing this opportunity to soak in and learn a great deal now. I've taught myself to think of things I "have to do" as things "I get to do". It's easier to get by that way. :)

At the same time, our family welcomed a new family member - a new bro-in-law - as my sister tied the knot in May. Wedding preparations was not easy, and many panic buttons pressed, but it was a sweet wedding and all that mattered was that they were so happy. :)

And as always, May came and went and I turned 25, but this time came with a minor health scare. 'Scare' because that was all it was and everything is fine, but it was enough to remind myself again that every birthday counts. Every day, in fact, is significant. A day before my birthday, I was working at a CSR company event, and aptly, the experience showed me just how grateful I needed to be with all that I am blessed with now. It reminded me that sometimes, all those dreams, all those 'wants' and desires to have a better job, or to travel more, or to get a house... all those can take a back seat because there are bigger investments to be put into (Yeah, I know it sounds unbelievable to be putting travelling at the back seat but it seems this way for now and I'm so far pretty fine with it).

Perhaps I'm the kind of person that need constant reminders again and again, so my priorities are aligned... because I forget. I forget, how at Life Camp 2 years ago, I was stirred when my Life Checks didn't quite balance out. And now, again, I needed to be reminded, to be stirred out of complacency. 

I read somewhere that you find yourself most in your teens and early twenties, and as you approach mid twenties, you will roughly know what you want out of life. I still don't. I still constantly find myself at crossroads and uncertainties, but I do know what's important to me now. Perhaps that's what they meant by "finding yourself"? To feel stable and secure even through all these shit and craziness because you know what's important to you, eventhough you may not know how to go about it. Maybe. I dunno. I just reached mid twenties. I will figure it out soon I guess. :)

What's most important is that lately, despite all these ups and downs and craziness... I know I have much to be thankful for when I find myself feeling secure and happy. They say happiness is really quite simple. Maybe it really is. And I will enjoy it while it lasts :)

* * * * * * *
- Snapshots of 2012 -

#1 7th January 2012 - 10th Friendship Anniversary with Pei Wern. 

All it took was a simple conversation and I have been blessed with a great friendship. High school was awesome with you - our rebellious streaks littered with climbing out of school walls and answering back at teachers and getting punished because I never, ever knew how to answer Add Maths Qs, coupled with our devotion times and whisperings of loverboys at the back of the class. :) I know friendships change and ours have as we move along after college and work, but I'm glad we are still putting in the effort even if we aren't as close as we used to. It's alright... because we embrace change but I know if I ever come to you crying, you would be there for me, and that's all that matters. Know that it goes both ways k :)

#2 Revising Matt's work shirt into a dress - things I watched on Youtube and just had to try!

#3 Agreed! 

#4 Escapades to recharge :)

#5 Second trip to Vietnam; Ho Chi Minh/Saigon this time!

I realised if I don't start writing down my recollections of the trip, I would probably be unable to recall most of the places soon. Which is a pity because we had so much laughs! HCM feels just like any other city but because every city has its charm, "just like any other city" wouldn't do justice to it. It's such a busy, busy city! My pictures wouldn't do justice to describe my trip too, because I'm too lazy to upload and resize everything, but I enjoyed myself :)

I think I was happy to be able to take a picture that I momentarily forgot how to convert currencies. -_-" He quoted a very high price for a freakin' coconut and I said ok! Pei Wern was like, "Are you crazy?!" And then when I realised how much it really was, I had to bargain till the coconut was about RM6. I just couldn't say no because he already chopped open the coconut! Plus that thing was really heavy and I felt bad. :( So fail. AND the coconut was SMALL!!!  tsk.

  I have to look back at where we were headed to because I can't remember now!

 Authentic street food - a must-try at every holiday :)

 Cu Chi Tunnels - I'm not quite a history buff but I really enjoyed the tour there. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots during the war. We got to go through a short part of the tunnel and it was really narrow, even for us! The tour guide said that some parts have already been widen for tourists, so I can't imagine how narrow and small it really was back then.

At the War Remnants Museum. I'll come by here again with Matt because I know he'll enjoy all these nerdy, history stuff :p

#6 Fleeting memories

Just a random shot of Juicy Couture when I was in the city for a conference recently. It's been a while since I took the LRT down to Bukit Bintang and it reminded me of the high streets in Hong Kong, where all the fashion brands are. I was standing there taking a picture of JC to Whatsapp to Sarah because I was reminded of the launch we worked on years ago when they first entered Malaysia, smiling to myself. Then this white guy, clearly a tourist, stood beside me and said hi, and asked if I worked around here. And I stood there looking at him, not quite paying attention to him but thinking of the reversal of roles when I'm in a foreign city dressed in shorts and a tank top, just like him. 
And at that moment, I really missed backpacking. 

Soon. Pacing my trips, but soon. :)


#7 ATV Adventure

Scary experience going up and down rough terrains and crossing rivers in the jungle, but I loved it! 

 #8 Groupon teacher for a day at Groupon's CSR event. 

Apparently I had one of the naughtiest kids but Zamani was very well-behaved with me! :)

#9 I will miss you!

Saying bye to Fong Fong on her last day. I was so sad :( She was a great boss and mentor, and still am. She is the epitome of the kind of person I want to be, and she has the kindest heart ever. 

#10 Us at BrandLaureate Awards

He tried to surprise me at BL awards because he knew I was going but failed, haha! We were there as attendees for our own respective companies. 

Tumpang glamour with the trophies hehe.


#11 Stress points

Identifying the emotions in our bodies through colours with play therapist Chris Ng at a stress management session at work. I never explained mine to the group because I shared with a colleague and he said I was too deep. But here's to share just for kicks:

My heart is where my passion is, hence I drew a red heart, and that orangish swirl of ball are emotions that I feel in my heart as well. They are both hidden in my heart because most of the time I keep it inside me and I only share it with people I trust. Even if I'm unhappy or would have loved to lash out or voice out, I rarely do unless extremely provoked. The grey colour at my hands represents the mundane day-to-day that I do just to survive and pay the bills. I wish I could do things that I'm passionate about but unfortunately this is reality. The blue and green are thoughts of "serenity" (more like idealistic, at times unrealistic thoughts) and "greener pastures". As always, I have thoughts of just one day throwing in the letter and get out of PR and backpack for months, or quit my job and be a wedding photographer, or teach kindy kids but get a huge paycut. I know I can if I really have the guts to, but I have made my choices and I can't at the moment, so these thoughts just stay there as thoughts and it never reach my hands for action. But if you notice the dotted lines, it represents the fact that I try my best to let passion, my job, and these thoughts intertwine. So even if I may not be truly happy with what I am doing now, I try to "insert" passion through other channels, like volunteer to take photos at events, participate at CSR events with kids; or try to put *some more realistic thoughts into action; eg: shorter backpacking trips. That helps me to get by... or I will go crazy.

I don't think it's deep because I know I'm not alone and millions of people feel this way. 

#12 'Hands Percussion Balik Kampung with Amway Project' - Bukit Tinggi

The Amway team and HP co-founder Eric on the right

#13 Making music with recyclable items
 

#14 Cardboard heads for the Lion Dance (so cute!)

#15 Parade through the Bukit Tinggi village

#16 Spot me! :p



 Amway's new CSR project is a collaboration with Hands Percussion to bring to children in small towns and villages an opportunity to learn and appreciate music through percussion instruments. 5 small towns, 1 down, 4 more to go. Kickstarting the project was Bukit Tinggi - despite having to deal with some difficult situations and coming home with super bad food poisoning on my birthday, I enjoyed the experience tremendously. Looking forward to Sarawak where I heard we will need to go into the rural small towns through small chartered planes and sampans and maybe long 4W drives. Wow. Fun! :)

  #17 Turning a quarter century old :)

Discounting the polaroid pics that are lying somewhere in my room, I only have these few! Dang I should start taking pics again.

#18 Love is patient, love is kind... love never fails

Love comes in many shapes and sizes, many stories of their own. I'm happy for them :)






#19 With the bro-in-law

#20 My handsome man <3
you light up my life :)

#21 Company Dinner & Dance 

Our team's performers with the boss. 'Glee' was the theme of the night and everyone was broken into groups to perform a Glee song. Our group did an extremely dirty version of Madonna's 'Express Yourself' - pretty fun :p (I actually don't even watch Glee!)
 
Steph and Eik - they make the workplace fun :)

#22 Random day, random sunset, but it sure made me smile :)

#23 Celebrating milestones in our careers :)

#24 Girly, noisy catch-ups

I wish I can meet up more often with all my girlfriends - I don't think I do very often. But I'm glad that when we do, besides the noisy chatter and loud laughter from our table, I know the meet-ups matter so much more as we share and try to give each other advices on our problems. I'm grateful for the support network! ;)

#25 A little bucket for your bucket list :)

I know you will be able to sort things out and achieve the things on your bucket list. Believe in yourself! You know who you are :)

#26 Taman Sea Prefects' Leadership Camp

Being with them reminds me of how old I am (in number, as compared to them), but how young they also make me feel :) Also showed me that it takes much more than just being able to give good advice to be a good role model - it's leading by example in even the littlest things! Because they observed!

 #27 I've been told I'm too serious sometimes... 

 ...and then there are the notes like this...

corporate Esther and "after hours" Esther. LOL! Alright. Glad I'm not as serious or boring as I thought! :p

#28 "A good reason to dress up for you.."

We were at one of Matt's best friend's wedding.
It was such a sweet wedding - the couple dated for 16 years! 

#29 Getting out of comfort zones :)
#30 Guess who's been doing weights ;) #showoff

#31 One of the reasons why I love you... because of your attention to detail

:)

 #32 One of the things I "get to do"

Trying my hand at proofreading drafts of annual report. I've not been much of a corporate person or even remotely like finance, but I've been learning a great deal from Fong Fong on Corp Finance and I think I'm actually enjoying it! :)

#33 And I will keep moving. :)



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