Friday, November 28, 2008

The week that was…

I thought the previous week was hectic, having gone to IAB for an interview,(senior lecturer’s post-DG 52) that included three hours of waiting in line (8.00am-11.30am) just to register for an interview, and finally finishing with an oral interview at 3.30pm. Then to a meeting in Kuantan-Beserah amidst the pouring rain and cool weather. As I said in my blog, the meeting went well, and of course I enjoyed my fill of “ikan patin buah masak tempoyak”. Back home for the weekend, I visited my parents at my brother’s house as usual and tried to ‘make’ their day enjoyable and fulfilling.

Then came Monday, when I received a call around lunchtime from my mum that dad had fallen and hit his face around midnight. So after work, I rushed over and saw that he was none the worse, visibly he spotted a cut above his left eye and had some swelling on his left side of his face. He seemed lost in his world as usual but he could respond to my queries. But I was to know later that actually, he lost quite an amount of blood due to the fall, and by the weekend, he had acquired a black eye and bruises on the left side of his face, plus bruises to his knees as well. Luckily for us, my brother and his wife were home at that time. This story actually needs a blog page on its own. My brother David, wrote a very informative and heartfelt piece on my dad’s condition in his blog: myhealthmatters. I pray my mum and dad will weather this ‘hiccup’ well. The next two days went by quickly as I had to attend a few meetings and prepare for my next interview, this time for the post of “pegawai cemerlang DG52”.

Tenacious Thursday! The d-day for yet another interview to promote senior staff to yet another higher grade. This time the interview was to be handled personally by the Director-general himself plus two senior officers.what was needed we were told, was our CV. Just bring that, cukup! The interview was to be held after office hours and my session was fixed at 8.00pm. So that evening, I braved the rain (and flash flood in Puchong)to pick up my girl who had come back from church camp in Genting. Finally, we reached home at 6.30pm and after a quick wash, was out of the house to go to Putrajaya for the interview. I arrived earlier than expected. We were to be interviewed in groups of 6 people and the earlier groups were each delayed by half an hour so mine was re-fixed at 8.30pm. Soon our turn came, the interviewers included Deputy-General (DG), Deputy Director General (DDG) and a Division Secretary. Our interview was forum-like. We were given a topic to discuss openly. The DG opened with a topic on the General elections held in March and after we had our say, the DDG gave a topic on Integrity. I think I did ok, I mean, with open topics such as the above, there is much to say. I only hope what I said
left a positive impact on the bosses. Oh well, as the DG said, “Doakan sahaja” which means ‘pray’. May the best man win, but as they say, “Man plans but GOD decides”.

Friday saw me attending the last day of the Extraordinary English for Protocol course I was taking…in the words of our dear friend, Sam, before he departed for the Holy Land to fulfil his Haj.
“The course may have ended on Friday, two days ago, nonetheless the poignant
memories remained. The few final scenes during the video presentation,
which was finely put together by Azemi and his team, were etched in my
memory. Mrs J. was at a loss for words for a few moments and you could almost
hear a pin drop when the whole class went quiet in absorbing the poignant
moments”. Yes, what an end to a perfectly hectic week. I myself was lost for words except to give Mrs J. three hugs and wish her well. I thanked her for the friendship and her infective enthusiasm for life and all things healthy and wise. Thank you Mrs J. for effectively facilitating our extraordinary course and to all my equally enthusiastic course mates, continue with the good habits learnt and acquired throughout the course.
Life is for us to live our best, be happy and live each day as if it were our last.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fond memories- Kuantan 26 years on...

Yes, folks, am in Kuantan now...official duty.
It's been a long time coming... brings back t the time I first came to Kuantan in January 1982, as a fresh-faced graduate and my first job in Politechnic Kuantan, Semambu.
Would you believe, that was my first encounter with Kuantan or as near as I could get with my venture to the East Coast which till then, was the other part of the world, as I was born and bred in Johor Bahru, then did my varsity education in K.L. My first time to Kuantan was a bus trip with my youngest brother Henry for company. He was really good company for I was filled with anxiety, tension, expectations, fear of what the future would bring.

But the days turned to months, then years...and I finally left in 1995, after 13 years at the Polytechnic. It was in Kuantan that I made some really good friends, colleagues who remain my friends till this day, I had a pow-wow with them just yesterday at the local Kemaman Kopitiam, Jey, Noraini. It was in Kuantan that we bought our first house in Air Putih, it was also here that I was to have my two younger children, Jonathan and Joanne. My eldest girl, Jenny, was born in Johor Bahru..that is another story..perhaps I will talk about that another day. Yes, Kuantan holds fond memories for me, Telok Chempedak and Kompleks Teruntum, the local bus station where I made weekly trips home to JB etc, (my baby was being cared for by my parents for the first year of her life as my husband was working elsewhere at that time),the salt fish emporium where I used to buy all my family's needs for ikan bilis, dried prawns, keropok, dried sotong, rojak sause, salted fish...the durains and fresh seasonal fruits...that in a nutshell was Kuantan for me. I love Kuantan., my home for thirteen years!

This week, I am 'home' and am thrilled to be back. Managed to squeeze in an hour with old friends at the Kopitiam yesterday and today meeting another group at 6pm. Kuantan has changed so much over the years. Would you believe I have lost track of where my former house stood, even the name of the road has changed! And the rubber estate next to my house then is now a new housing malls , the Berjaya mall and the East Coast (EC ) mall have sprung up, though I have no time to visit as yet. Our meetings, I'll have you know, are very tightly scheduled and we meet and do our work from 8am till 10.30 pm at night (sometimes even past midnight). We only have our breaks for tea, lunch, tea and dinner. That is how government servants work when we are outstation, no time waster..really...! So shopping and mall viewing will have to take a backseat on this trip.

I loved Telok Chempedak (TC) for that was a place I hung out with my roomate, Cheam, developed a taste for road jogging and hill climbing up Bukit Pelindung. TC as it is fondly called has changed its facade, there are now walkways and pedestrain walks, and stalls selling handicraft. The shops along the road to TC remain the, time has stood still for them. As for Bukit Pelindung, numerous large homes have grown on the hill slopes taking the rural, rustic charm from the hill I spent most evenings while out with my boyfriend then husband. Yes, Kuantan holds special memories for me.
Infact, the journey by car, along the new Karak highway was a new adventure for me. I am glad it's mostly two-way now, I remember my fears each time we drove those days as it was mainly one-way for both lanes of traffic. It was quite horrendous really as we had to drive past a lot of timber lorries. It was scary as well. I haven't used that road since we left in 1995. I have always wanted to try this highway ever since it was completed but somehow that idea never took off. This time I had company. I never would have driven to Kuantan alone. Somehow, my driving skills and confidence level of driving on my own takes a backseat against the road bullies and traffic. I missed the East coast way back to JB, where we passed through Rompin, Mersing, Kota Tinggi then to JB. I am sure it will be an adventure as well. I dont know, in future I am sure if ever I come this way alone, I'd probably take the plane. It's only half an hour from KLIA.

I enjoyed the drive, the scenery on both sides still beckon fond memories but most of all, traffic was minimal (maybe it wasn't the weekend) and the roads relatively safe . The rainy weather didn't damper our spirits but it did slow us down. All in all, it was an enjoyable drive and we even managed to savor the delicious "ikan patin (silver catfish) buah masak dalam tempoyak" in Temerloh. It was simply delicious albeit pricey but hey, we got to live a little, right?
Well, Kuantan still holds a special place in my heart and really, my husband and I should find time to show our children where they were born and tell them about the place they called home for the first few years of their lives. Honey, are you reading this? Yes, I leave tomorrow but Kuantan should not just be a stopover, there is much to enjoy and discover. One should take a short holiday here and enjoy the Kuantan that we all know and love.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Don't Sweat the Small stuff

Hello folks,
Thought I'd put here what I shared with my colleagues last Thursday during a "share a Book' session at our BTP resource center. This in a nutshell is a summary of part of the book's contents. Hope you enjoy it.

Title: Don’t sweat the small stuff
Author: Richard Carlson
Publisher: Hodder & Stoghton
Year of Pub: 1997

This book was given to me by my youngest brother Henry, in 2003 when I was promoted to School Principal. He probably thought I would be overwhelmed and being me...I might just be "sweating" over little things. How true! This book has been referred to throughout the last five years and continue to remind me of the 'small things' in life that I should not waste time over and also the 'small people' who try to make my life 'miserable'. He he. thanks, Henry. I do hope some of the ways will remind us to live our lives to the fullest and not let the 'small stuff' get in our way of happiness and our daily living.

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff And It’s All Small Stuff
Simple Ways To Keep The Little Things From Overtaking Your Life…

The Greatest Discovery Of My Generation Is That A Human Being Can Alter His Life By Altering His Attitude.- William James

Theme: How to live a more fulfilled and peaceful life, by making our actions more peaceful and caring and encourages us to trust our intuitions so that we can live each day as if it might be your last.

1. Ask ourselves this question: Will this matter a year from now?
2. Do something nice for someone else –and don’t tell anyone about it.
3. Surrender to the fact that life isn’t fair
4. Listen to your feelings (they are trying to tell you something)
5. Remember that when you die, your ‘in’ box won’t be empty.

Book Content: The book actually has 100 ways to "not sweat the small stuff" but I have picked only about 30 of them to share with you...

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff

E.g. a stranger cutting into our lane when driving…rather than let it go, we rant about it the whole day when in fact, we should just have compassion for the driver, allow the driver to have his accident somewhere else.
Whether we had to wait in line, listen to unfair criticism, or do the lion’s share of the work, it pays if we learn not to worry about little things. We may lose touch with the magic and beauty of life. When you commit yourself to this goal, you will find that you have more energy to be kinder and gentler.

2.Make peace with imperfection

The need for imperfection – creates conflict within us.
A disorganised cupboard
Our looks, behaviour
Catch yourself and do not insist that things should be better than what they are.
Remind yourself that it is ok the way it is…
Eliminate the need for perfection and you will discover the perfection of life itself.

3. Let Go Of The Idea That Gentle, Relaxed People Can’t Be Superachievers

Fear that if we stop being superachievers, we might become lazy and apathetic.
The opposite is actually true.
When you have what you want (inner peace) you are less distracted by your wants, needs, desires and concerns.
It is easier to concentrate, focus, achieve your goals and to give back to others.

4. Be Aware Of The Snowball Effect Of Your Thinking

This means- one thought leading to the next-thinking and planning work mentally - snowballing- sleepless nights
Catch yourself, stop the train
Keep a pen and paper by your bedside, write down something you suddenly remember, then go back to sleep instead of letting it worry you and snowballing…

5. Develop your compassion

· Compassion is a sympathetic feeling.
· In involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, feel his predicament, recognise their problems, their pain and frustrations
· Offer assistance-open our own hearts-and feel the sense of gratitude
· Compassion can be developed with practice-it involves 2 things: intention and action
· Intention- you remember to open your heart to others, you expand from yourself to others
· Action – what you do about it- donate sone money, time, offer a smile
· Reflect the miracle of life – that you can see, read, hear, talk, walk, love …
· When there are those who can’t.

6. Remind yourself that when you die, your ‘in basket’ won’t be empty.

So many of us live our lives to get everything done. We stay up late, get up early, avoid fun, keep our loved ones waiting…
The ‘in basket’ is always full, phone calls to make and promises to keep, projects to complete and work to be done.
In reality everything can be done, in its own time…
Why don’t we enjoy each step as we go along, live a life full of love…
Remember when we die, there will still be unfinished business in our basket …
And you know what? Someone else will be doing it for you.

7. Don’t interrupt others or finish their sentences.

It makes people nervous, irritable and annoyed. It causes arguments and nobody listen to what they are saying.
How can you listen to what they are saying when you are speaking for others.
Remind yourself, be patient, wait for the person to finish talking first, before you take your turn
You yourself will also be listened to, you will be more relaxed and everyone will be happier.

8. Do something nice for someone else - and don’t tell anyone about it

· When we do something for someone, we are happy that we are thoughtful people and we want others to know about it.
· However, if you keep it to yourself, you will feel good, you will retain all the positive feelings. Feel good about giving to others.
· One should give for the sake of giving, not to expect anything in return.
· The next time you do something nice for someone, keep it to yourself and revel in the joy you are giving.

9. Let others have the glory.

· Let others do the talking
· Refrain from talking about yourself and your experiences (there will be time for that)
· Let others feel they are important, they have done something wonderful
· Do not have the compulsive need to grab attention from others
· In the end, you will have the quiet inner confidence that is derived from letting others have it.

10. Learn to live in the present moment

· Irrespective of what happened yesterday or last year and what may happen tomorrow, the present moment is where you are - always.
· When we are busy making plans, our children are growing up, the people we love are moving away and dying, our bodies are getting out of shape, our dreams are slipping by…
· No one has a guarantee they will be here tomorrow…
· Now is the only time we have control over…
· We fear we do not have enough money, our children will get into trouble, our old age …
· Get over the fear, live in the present moment.

11. Imagine that everyone is enlightened except you

· Try to imagine that everyone you know are going to meet is perfectly enlightened. They are all here to teach you something.
· Your job is to try to determine what the people in your life are trying to teach you.
· You will be less annoyed, unhappy, bothered, frustrated….learn patience and compassion…
· Ask “ Why are they doing this? What are they trying to teach me?”

12. Let others be “right” most of the time.

Ask yourself “Do I want to right or do I want to be happy?”
Being right, defending our positions- alienate others from our lives.
Stop correcting people. Praise people when they are right. They will become less defensive and more loving.
Start today, let others be “right” most of the time.

13. Become more patient.

The more patient you are, the more accepting you will be of what is, rather than insisting that life be exactly what you would like it to be.
Being patient involves opening your heart to the present moment.
Stuck in traffic jams, late for an appointment-being late is “small stuff”
When people interrupt, look at it as it is and accept it-keep your perspective- lower high blood pressure…

14. Be the first one to reach out …

· When there is an argument or misunderstanding, we always wait for the other person to apologise…
· Why not, we should be the first to reach out.
· When we hold on to our anger, we turn “small stuff” to “big stuff”
· When you reach out, others will reach back…

15. Ask yourself “will this matter a year from now?”

Is the situation really as important as I’m making it out to be, once in a while maybe, but most of the time it is not.
Whether it is an argument, a lost wallet, a work-related rejection, a sprained ankle---one year from now, you aren’t going to care.
Use this energy with your family- for more creative thinking.

16. Once a week, write a heartfelt letter

It has changed many lives, assisted more people in becoming more peaceful and loving
Make a list of people you want to thank and are grateful to…
Write your letter expressing love and gratitude
Spend a moment everyday thinking of someone to thank.
Feel good about it… focus on what’s right in your life.

17. Set aside quiet time, every day

· Whether its ten minutes of meditation, taking a ten-minute bath, ten minute walk – quiet time is a vital part of life.
· It would make life more bearable- we would be more relaxed…

18. Seek first to understand

· You become more interested in understanding others,
· You can communicate more effectively
· People will listen to you and understand you
· You will have better, more loving relationships

19. Practice humility

· Humility and peace go hand in hand
· Stop bragging, boasting, gloating
· If not people will talk about you, behind your back, even avoid you
· Practice being modest- humble and kind and
· You will receive more positive feedback and attention

20. Every day, tell at least one person you like, admire, love or appreciate them

· It takes no effort- but pays dividends
· When people are acknowledged and complimented, they will feel good and positive
· Thank someone, pay someone a compliment,
· Tell someone close you love them
· It takes only a couple of seconds but leaves an endless trail of good feeling …

21. Be grateful when you’re feeling good, and graceful when you’re feeling

· Understand that both positive and negative feelings come and go
· Accept the inevitability of passing feelings
· When you’re feeling good, be grateful, be happy, enjoy the feeling…
· When you’re feeling bad, don’t fight it, try to relax, accept it gracefully

22. Do one thing at a time

· How often do we try to do more than one thing at a time?
· Eg. Shave, drink coffee and read newspapers all at once.
· When we do that, it is impossible to be present-moment oriented.
· You become less focussed and effective
· Be present in what you are doing.
· Concentrate- you will be more interested
· You will be amazed at how quickly and efficiently you’ll get things done.

23. Count to ten.

· When you’re angry, take a long deep inhalation, count number one to ten, if really angry, count to twenty.
· The combination of counting and breathing is relaxing, it helps big stuff become small stuff.
· Incorporate into your daily life- even when not angry, try the breathing exercises, relax and enjoy it.

24. Be willing to learn from friends and family

They can help us solve problems, offer simple solutions.
Ask your friends “ What are my weak spots?”
Ask your family for advice- it may prevent you from having bad experiences

25. Be happy where you are.

Many of us postpone our happiness- someday when I have money, when I get a promotion, I’ll be happy.
We keep waiting for something to happen..
But life keeps moving forward, we can be happy right now, If not now, when?
There is no way to happiness,
Happiness is the way.

26. Make service a vital part of your life

· To become kinder, more loving requires action.
· Ask yourself “ How can I be of service?”
· Help others, your chances to be of service are endless.
· Giving is its own reward.
· When you give, you will receive.
· Everybody wins.

27. Do a favour and don’t ask for, or expect one in return.

When you do something nice for someone, you’ll have a sense of ease and peace.
Your reward is knowing you have done something good, even if no one says thank you or acknowledge it.
The more you practice, you will experience the good feelings which are rewards in themselves.

28. Become an early riser

So many people wake up, rush off to work, grab a quick cup of coffee…
After work, you rush home and feel so tired…
Before your day begins, get an early start … wake up at 3 or 4 am in the morning.
Use the quite time to read, do yoga, just relax…when the rest of the family wakes up, you already had your quiet time

29. Mind your own business (MYOB)

It’s about knowing when to help and when to leave something alone.
MYOB – goes beyond avoiding temptation, gossiping, eavesdropping, talking behind people’s back.
Have the wisdom to back off- focus your attention to where it’s truly relevant and needed.


None of us know how long we have to live, sadly we act as if we are going to live forever…
We postpone things we want to do, go fishing, bake a cake, visit old friends, writing a letter…
Live each day as if it is your last day on earth.
Realise how precious life is, don’t sweat the small stuff… treasure yourself.

So folks...enjoy today and everyday and don't let anyone bug is too short for us to get overworked and happy. Here's wishing you happy days and plenty of sunshine to match your day, everyday.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Kuala Terengganu – 25 years on…

Thursday, 30 October 2008.

My first encounter with KT was way back in 1983 when I went there with some friends to watch the giant leatherback turtles lay eggs on Pantai Batu Buruk. Gosh, that was some 25 years ago. Wow, somehow, I feel as though I’ve just been in a time warp. My experience then wasn’t that memorable, I remember walking the narrow streets back then that were lined by old shops and very few vehicles. My experience with the turtle watching wasn’t that exciting cos’ I remember everyone sitting along the beaches waiting for the turtle to show up. This went on for the better part of the night. Then at 2am, we were woken up by shouts of cheers and delight that a couple of turtles had come to shore and were laying their eggs. I remember running with the other hordes of tourists, to the other part of the beach, an experience I told myself I would not want repeated. It was a long and tiring run and on reaching the site, there were lines of people in front, the crowd was huge. When my friends and I finally jostled our way to the site, it was quite pathetic really, this giant turtle was trying to lay its eggs and you could see the tears rolling from its eyes (a common belief that it happens every time it lays eggs), but to me it was probably crying due to the invasion of its privacy, and tourists poking at it, trying to pose and take pictures at it and with it. Ladies, imagine giving birth in full view of hordes of gawking tourists. I felt so tired and nauseated and told myself once was enough and you know, I never went back. Though I had opportunities over the years, I never did go and see another turtle lay eggs. Watching National Geograpic on ASTRO was enough for me. So, that in a nutshell was Kuala Terengganu for me.

It was only in 2006, 23 years later, when I joined BTP that I had the opportunity to visit KT again. This was a short visit, to attend the farewell dinner of the KPP of BTPN Terengganu who was retiring and attending a Convention the next day. I did not have the pleasure of touring any part of Terengganu let alone KT cos’ after the event, I hopped on the next plane home. In 2007, I managed a couple of more visits, stayed at Primula Hotel and also at BTPN Terengganu in Marang. Visted the usual market place in Pasar Payang which we BTPians fondly named PKG Payang.

Now 25 years later, I have been to KT twice in a space of two weeks. So what’s the difference you might ask. Plenty of course. Everyone visiting KT or parts of Terengganu will testify that the physical appearance of KT has changed dramatically ober the years. Thanks to the former Menteri Besar, Dato Idris Jusoh, whom I would equate with bringing Terengganu to what it is today. I managed to catch interviews with him on TV and also read up on his contributions to the state. I was quite taken up with him after reading about his bold moves to modernize Terengganu and making it ICT savvy. I am not into politics or how he fell out of favour with the Terengganu royal family and his ‘ fall from grace’ as they say. Still, he did a lot for Terengganu and I am sure natives of KT will vouch for that. I know the controversy concerning the Islamic garden, the Crystal Mosque and replicas of famous mosques from worund the world. I have been there, pretty interesting and the visit to the infamous Crystal mosque was pleasantly unique. (view my pictures).
Terengganu also boasts of many beautiful beaches with soft, silky white sand. Believe me...its true!

Ok back to my two visits to KT. Actually, I am writing this at KLIA while waiting for transport to BTPN N9.
Last week I was there for two days, on a job assignment but managed a short visit to Pasar Payang during the long lunch break on Friday. The marketplace is still the same, shop owners have not agreed to move to the new bazaar down the road. Reason being that the rental is too high. Whatever, I cant really tell if prices of material etc have gone up but I was informed its cheaper than in KL, don’t know about it, cos I am sure some of the stuff are cheaper back home here. Still, you just can’t leave the pasar without buying something. Yes, I must confess my weakness for lovely silk batik and of course ended a few hundred ringgit poorer, but vanity has its price! As they say, vanity, thy name is woman!

This week I spent two days here as well, on a mission prepare reports on this year’s performance of my sector’s programs and to plan for next year’s. I must say my 5 officers and I did a good job. We even worked through lunch yesterday and only went for a break at the Marang beach in the evening for tea. We enjoyed fried fish, prawns, sotong, pisang goring and keropok lekur and of course a coconut drink. I guess we all wanted to forget the cholestral that came with the crisps and oily food just for one evening. We Malaysians are guilty of this, we always tell ourselves, just this once…unfortunately we have ‘this once’ multiplied hundreds of times, thus the overweight and obese problems in our society. Your truly has had her share of battling the fat problem. Somehow, the occasional ‘eat-out’ is happening much too often though my officers and friends will say, hey, let live, once in a while you should let yourself go and enjoy your food without thinking of diets etc. See the cliché ‘once in a while’ happening all over again, once too often. Anyway, I did enjoy the outing and the sea breeze.

A visit to KT would not be complete without a visit to this infamous Pasar Payang.Today, before leaving for the airport, I managed to squeeze in the lunch break for some ikan bilis, keropok and ikan masin for folks at home. Now the flight home was something else. Having been relegated to the back seats (something I dread every time I board the plane and have to sit at the back), I was pretty apprehensive and worried as I have had some bad experiences whilst sitting at the back. Today was no different. Weather throughout the country has not been exactly on our side, what with floods stretching from Kedah to Penang to Perak. Even KL is not spared, we have had rain throughout the day at times with evenings in particular. So having come to Terengganu, the weather too was not on our side. Last week, when I was here, it rained cats and dogs. The last two days were ok. I can’t say that much for the trip home to KLIA today. The plane was shaking most of the early part of the journey. How I dread it when this happens. So while I travel a lot by plane, it doesn’t allay any fears of the feelings of impending air disaster each time I board.
Well, in a fortnight’s time, I will be airborne again, to Kuantan this time and yes, that familiar feeling will be with me, but what to do, duty calls and I just have to face the ride, whether I like it or not. Well, weekend’s here. Enjoy it while it lasts.