January 15th, 2010

The Importance of Making New Year’s Resolutions

A strange thing happened to me in 2010. My New Year started without a shiny New Year’s Vibe. This year I decided to do without a proper New Year’s Resolution.

You see, I’ve become quite the compulsive goal setter. I set goals on a regular basis. I have monthly goals taped to my monitor. I have quarterly and yearly targets — both personal and business — defined on a spreadsheet. But my New Year’s resolution is always separate from my Goals. My goals are concrete and measurable, with clearly defined deadlines. My resolutions are positive declarations of change.

It doesn’t bother me that I don’t actually keep most of my old resolutions. I think the buzz I get from looking forward to a change in lifestyle, a new way of thinking, invites me to start the year with a super positive outlook. Plus it’s a lot of fun. I usually start the year on a loud, hopeful note: “This is the year that *** happens!”

2010 came quietly, without much fanfare. It just feels that 2009 got an extension. That was a great year. But it’s time for something new.

New year's resolutions: Fitter, happier, more productive, comfortable, regular exercise at the gym

What’s your resolutions for the new year?

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July 17th, 2009

Discovering Life

A few months into pre-school, I told my dad that I didn’t wish to continue going to the classes anymore because my teacher could not, for the life of her, pronounce my name properly. (She called me Manina. Manina?! How did the letters “r” and “l” morphed into an “n”? And this came from a person who was supposed to teach me my ABC’s.) After a chuckle and an “Are you sure?”, my dad agreed to let me stay home and play instead.

The days that followed were tranquil and filled with joy. In the mornings, I’d draw, paint and play; the afternoons were spent with my mum who read me stories and taught me how to add and subtract; some evenings, my dad would teach me how to read and write.

One of the mornings, I found myself awake alone in our house that was bathed in the glorious warm tone of a delicious morning sun. I remember walking into the kitchen, thinking the rays that flooded the windows were veils of magic dust. I went into the bathroom, cupped water from a running tap and then watched it flow through my fingers. I caught myself breathing deeply, paused for awhile and thought, “this is life. I am alive.”

That afternoon, I watched my mother’s rhythmic breathing as she was taking a nap. I tried to hold my breath to see if I felt any different. Then I deduced that there was an existence within me that was more than physical. I asked my dad later about it and he told me I’ve just discovered my own soul.

Life is a chance to grow a soul
Do you remember the first time you discovered life?

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June 8th, 2009

Travel Advice

“I’m thinking of going to *insert-country-here* in September/Winter/next year. Any good advice?”
Big Ben, clock tower, Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London

Here are some I received from well-meaning friends as I packed my bags for the trip in May:

“London?! Why? It’s so… dull! Skip London, go Paris instead”

“I didn’t like Paris. Highly overrated! Rude people. Go to Prague, you’ll enjoy it better!”

“No! Don’t. go. anywhere. There this Swine Flu thing going around!”

(Well, okay, the last advice was from my Ma)

Eiffel Tower Tour in Paris London for me was vibrant and full of life; I encountered many helpful and friendly French people (et non, in my eyes, Paris is not overrated at all!) and although I find Prague a beautiful city, I can’t say if I enjoyed it “better” than Paris.

Travel is such a personal thing. Whether or not your experience is a good or not-so-good one depends on so many factors — the weather, the people you happen to meet (or who you’re travelling with), your interests, age and expectations. If I were to take any of the advice seriously, I would end up avoiding most of places I had planned to visit. So my advice is this: if you are keen on a place, do your own research and just go. Don’t let others dictate what your personal experience will be for you.

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March 20th, 2009

My Blogging History - How I started blogging

I didn’t really decide one fine day to start a blog.

I created my first personal website in 1999. I was looking for a job in web design then so it was a requisite to have your own website. The site showcased my design work, contained a little introduction about myself and included my resume.

When I got a job, the function of the website slowly evolved to that of an online diary (now called “blogging”), with a few of my pictures thrown in for no reason whatsoever (the early seeds of  “camwhoring”).

I didn’t update the site regularly because if I had something to say to the world, I had to stop and think whether it justified the 50-minute process involved in publishing a file to the Internet.

For the uninitiated, in the pre-push-button-publishing era, updating a page involved editing HTML codes in a local application, saving the file and then FTPing the updated file to the server via a SLOW DIAL UP CONNECTION. The annoying part was, only after doing all that do you notice you had coded/formatted/written a paragraph wrongly. So you had to repeat the whole process all over again. Uploading photos? Before doing all the steps above, you had to go through the trouble of developing AND scanning photos (remember, those were the days of film camera). Phew!

Online publishing today is much simpler. It involves merely clicking the button called “publish” or “post” in your blog publishing application. I started using Blogger in 2005 and then WordPress in 2008.

How long have you been blogging?

Blogging on an old computer

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January 20th, 2009

Invest in Your Health

Nothing like starting a brand new month in a brand new year all raring to go,  pocket full of ambitious resolutions. And then falling ill. For a good half of the month. Oh well, I’m just glad that’s over. By the way, thanks for the get well wishes guys.

I’ve been thinking about the stress thing my doctor kept talking about. I believe deep down inside, despite the mental preparation and all, I’m really more than a little worried about the current state of the economy. Add to that news of friends being layed off every other week…

Quite a few companies here will closed for a longer-than-usual period for Chinese New Year next week. Workers are being asked to take extended leave due to slow-down in operations. The company we’re doing a project with is also affected, so my husband and I will taking a week-long break next week too.

We don’t have anything planned for the week. I’m just going to basically chill out, eat well, exercise and, if the weather is good, tackle some of the things on our “Things to do on a Fine Day” list. I guess in these uncertain times, the best investment one can make now is in your health.

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November 7th, 2008

A President for the World

There was an air of quiet celebration in the house on Wednesday. My husband and I had taken a little time off work to watch the results of US Election on CNN.

When Obama’s name was announced as the president elect, I watched America and the whole world throw their fists in the air and celebrate. Some were crying, in relief, joy and hope (and for some, disappointment). I can’t help but shed a few tears myself. I’m just happy to be granted the privilege of witnessing this momentous occasion in history.


Last week I was chilling out on the couch after a very tiring day when my 11-year old nephew asked, “Why do the skinheads want to assassinate Obama?” referring to a newspaper report last month. In my state of fatigue, I tried explaining about racism and supremacists but find myself at a loss when he asked, “Why is the colour of one’s skin such a big deal?”


Earlier this year my husband and I were pondering on the probability of America having Barack Obama as president. His proposed policies are generally multilateral, his background is global and he’s got this thing called charisma.

To the world, Obama seemed to be the preferred candidate. Parts of Asia sees him as one of our own (“He speaks Bahasa and has lived in Indonesia! He’s more Asian than your uncle Jo”). Africa, or at least Kenya, claims him as a son of their soil. Middle east welcomes “Hussein” along with the olive branch he’s extending. In a sense, he is a president for the world.

But he is black (or grey as I call it, since he is half white). And we’re afraid that though the world was rooting and ready for him, America didn’t share the same sentiments.


We were wrong to assume that Americans were not mature enough to look beyond racial lines and for once I’m glad we were. There is so much hope and expectation placed on this one man. And he has shown us, with his election, that there is some hope in this world.

With the current global economic crisis and the peril of climate change, it is definitely a challenging time to be the leader of a nation so powerful and influential. Let’s hope that he lives up to at least some of the expectations. :)

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