Tuesday, May 28, 2013


"The greatest gift is a passion for reading."
~ Elizabeth Hardwick

Recently, my 6 year-old daughter was selected by her school to be part of a small performance at the Asian Festival Of Children's Content.  Truthfully, I was not aware of her participation until I got a call from the teacher to remind me that she has to be present as she was one of those selected by her phonics enrichment teacher....(well that's me!...consent form is always signed after receiving a reminder call from the teacher!!).

So the day came and we brought her to the National Library where the performance was held.  Her school was representing the enrichment centre's launch of a Malay language programme ('Fonik Ria' by Mini Monsters).  The 10 children selected was supposed to be there an hour earlier for a short rehearsal. 

Whilst waiting, the afternoon programme started with an introduction by a guest speaker, Vivian Kirkfield, who is a Blogger, Educator & Author of a few children's literacy materials.  At first I didn't think much of her presentation (due to some technical hiccups - her voice was not audible because of the noise pollution at the atrium and the PowerPoint was not working effectively at the beginning...). 

source: Asian Festival Of Children's Content, NLB

Not until a few minutes down the road was when I realised how significant her message was  - 'reading picture books with children is one of the most important tasks of parenthood!'.  Granted that most parents would have heard this time and time again, but her 15 minute presentation was insightful for me as it refreshes my memory on the importance of cultivating the love for reading.  Basically it jolted my conscience which at times (ok... at MOST times!) have resulted in neglecting reading with the kids AND with myself too....booohooo!)

Vivian's pointers were basics and the key message was that reading helps to build self-esteem for the little ones.  She recommended simple techniques of reading with the child such as investing a small amount of time aside to read with him/her.  Most importantly, she also suggested that after reading, to follow through with a simple activity to reinforce the learning such as doing art & craft with the child. 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."
~ Emilie Buchwald

Like I said earlier, most of us would already know this.  But the thing that triggered my conscience during Vivian's presentation was the fact that I was trained to do this!  This was one of the curriculum topics on teaching English for lower primary!  I recalled each week we were given children's story books to read and focus on.  It always got very interesting when we were asked to role play and develop extension activities for the particular story that was the focus for the week.  It was FUN and back then, I would always imagine how enjoyable it would be for the kids when such activities were incorporated into the reading programme. (I've never had such exposure when I was young unfortunately... ) Vivian recommended a few books and one of them was 'Where The Wild Things Are' by Maurice Sendak, and THIS was one of the books that we had to do in our review session!  Till today I still enjoy reading this book and I've read this to all my 3 children countless times! :)  Vivian's presentation resurrect my inspiration and energy once again to be a good story teller to my children.

Afterwards, I could not wait to see what was in store for my daughter's performance.  The little ones got up on stage and after a brief introduction, they began singing a very catchy Malay nursery rhyme.  Following that, the writer of the Fonik Ria book series called out her name and did a mini interview - asking her if she reads at home.  Then the surprising moment came (for me!).....she was asked to pick one of two books to read and she started reading the book page by page!  Oh WOW!! This was such a sight and a sentimental cum emotional one for me because up to 6 months ago, she could not read a complete story book on her own yet!  And now...she's not only reading by herself BUT in front of a public audience too!  So it was a really WOW moment there! :-)

I feel truly blessed to be able to witness yet again another milestone for my children.  Since that day, I'm now inspired to revive my love of reading (I know I need to buck up in this excuses!) and hope to be able to continue to be a book lover advocate for my children too.

Are you a book lover too?  Do you get inspired and energised through a simple passion in reading?  Share your inspiration if you are an avid bookworm...

"A picture book is worth a thousand words"
~ Vivian Kirkfield

Monday, May 20, 2013


June is just around the corner and that means school vacation!  As usual, we are always planning our trips for a getaway BUT always at the very last minute.  The consequence - pay a hefty sum for booking of flights or accommodation!

But that's not stopping us from having a few days off with the kids on a short getaway.  The only problem now is deciding on destination...sigh...

So here are the few options that we were considering...




CAMERON HIGHLAND we are thinking of the first week of June to be out....looks like the timing as of today is really really short and tight to make a decision!!  Sometimes I wonder if it's necessary to go to another country for a vacation?  I know there are staycation options now and so far the appealing factor is not as strong as the other.  In fact a few years ago, we did a staycation at Sentosa, and frankly the cost of the 2 nights stay was equivalent to a 3 or 4 nights stay overseas! Oh well....

For now definitely the option for Kota Kinabalu and Krabi is out.  That leaves the option between Batu Batu and KL/Cameron (or maybe just KL....boohooo)... Hope we can finalise this within the next few days....

What about you?  Have you made plans for your vacation?  Do you plan your vacation way in advance or are you like me always facing vacation dilemma (hope not!)? :P

Whatever it is....Happy Vacation!! :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


"Change is inevitable!"

Recently, there's been a lot of changes happening around my circle of life.  Change is part of life I know but how rapid it evolves is something that I always ponder about.  We all know that change is inevitable.  In fact from the moment we enter this world, our life goes through this cycle of change from every aspect - physical, emotion, etc.

In the career field, I'm seeing change through the organisational structure.  This form of change can come in varied 'sizes' - small or huge; and the impact to the employees in the organisation has a huge co-relation to the magnitude of the re-organisational exercise.  In the past 4 years or so (and currently still...), I've seen policies and procedures changed.  But most importantly, I've seen changes in people (in comes the new and out goes the old ones!).    From a business point of view, professionally, the objective of the change is meant to be positive to bring about newness and for the company to progress along with the changing time and trends.  From a personal point of view,  it takes a toll on many when  you lose those that you have made connection and build tight relationships with over the years.  But it's business as usual....

On a personal front, change seems to be a constant factor in my life - marriage, parenthood.... Every changing path that I come across, I'd be telling myself "This is the most challenging hurdle!"  Yet it would pass by like the wave and then I meet the next challenge... So here I am again thinking "Ok, this year is tough..." and all because I have an elder son who's sitting for his final primary school exam (PSLE), another son who's mid-way through his primary school year, and a young princess who's due for primary school registration in a couple of months time!

So how do I deal with changes with so many going on right now?

1.  Change matters and I know it's inevitable.  I just have to face the brutal truth whether the outcome is postive or otherwise.   The truth is we can make plans but it is He (Allah), the Almighty, who will determine the final outcome.  As the saying goes, "If it's yours, it's yours..." and if things don't fall into the places you expect, this could also be a sign of blessings in disguise.

2.  Be prepared.  I know that I'll be facing a tough year this time particularly with each of my child going through another key milestones in their young lives.  I guess I was prepared for this year especially so since last year.  As such, I've decided at the beginning of this year that their agenda would be my priority.

3.  Face the roadblocks.  As much as I tell myself I'm prepared for what's coming, I also try to anticipate the impending obstacles that would come my way.  This could be in any form - physical, social, emotional... The most obvious roadblock for me would be the actual mental torture of anticipation which leads to STRESS!

4.   Handling the roadblocks.  Although it looks like I'm equipped with knowing the fact that I will have obstacles to face in changing situation, it's definitely harder to actually handle that difficult situation.  As mentioned, my biggest obstacle is the mind game!  When shoved to a corner, I'll be at my wits end trying to untangle my thoughts which are often split into 2 or more pieces... This is when I look towards company of close friends and family members to throw out those thoughts.  Most of the time I sort of know the outcome but just needed the affirmation.

5.  Accept, adapt and move forward.  I think in any changing situation, the most important factor is to be able to accept.  In general, it's never easy to accept changes as we human beings are habitual creatures.  Acceptance may take place either in a short or long period of time.  But once this takes place, it makes it easier to start adapting and make small or big steps forward.

I'm currently undergoing extreme stress level when I realised that my son who is an average scorer in school work may not have enough time to turnaround for his final exam.  I was prepared and knew that there will be many challenges for us and him.  Sometimes I have to admit that I'm on the verge of giving up hoping.  However, upon reflection tonight, I have accepted the fact that he is what he is.  I will continue to support him especially from the emotional aspect as I have seen how much he has progressed over the past year with some help from the therapy sessions as well.  If given a choice, I would of course try to reduce the unnecessary pressure for him from the education system here.   That choice is not here yet, so for now I will continue to move forward with him and help him to take those small steps.  InsyaAllah (with God's will) he will succeed at his very own pace.

Next stop....Primary One registration for the little princess....the emotional stress is creeping out I know...but oh well....that's another change story for next time perhaps...

Does change matter to you?  How do you handle changes in your life?  
I hope you are able to embrace change no matter what size it is...

Monday, May 13, 2013


Ok so Monday is here again which is great....but how come we usually don't sound so enthusiastic about it? This post is going to be weird because I just wrote on TGIF last friday, and here I am writing on the blues...!

I wonder why we call it the Monday Blues?  Do you have a clue? 

In general, instead of having the energy all geared up for the week, most people, especially working adults, tend to experience a dip in the energy level just as the week peeks in.  Rightfully, after a well-rested 2-day weekend (for those working the typical 5-day work week cycle), we should be more energised right? 

Hmmm.....not quite for me actually.  That phrase 'well-rested' doesn't seem to be in my weekend vocabulary list lately, at least for the past few years!!   By the time it's Sunday night, I'm like this...


I don't know how I cope with Monday Blues all these years but I think I'm able to manage them well by doing some of these...

1.  Always pray for a brighter day ahead! :)

2.  Clear the space!  This is a must-do before I start off my coaching sessions with my coachee usually.     
     Basically it's clearing your mind of the things that are huddling around at the back of your mind.  All you
     need to do is verbalise what you have at the top of your mind, followed by acknowledging your feelings
     about it, and then say that you are going to clear that space (or thoughts).  Clear at least 3 things!  So
     for instance, one of the things that I cleared today was..."My mom is not well today.  I empathise
     with how she feels and am worried for her well-being.  I will check on her later.  For now, I'm
     going to put that aside". 
     Oh but of course, don't forget to clear the space (around you) literally! 

3.  Focus on the postitive things (hehehe...I know, I know...easier said than done when you know you've
     got loads to do or follow up!!) But go ahead....just keep that focus.   If it helps, write it as a list.  I try not
     to confuse this with my daily 'to-do' list.  If you've been following this blog, you know that I have my
     emo-scrolls :)

4.  Start the morning talking with friends or colleagues about the weekend (good or bad) or about life topics
     in general.  I suggest spending a few minutes perhaps (if you can spare the time) over a cup of coffee. 
     For me, this is just like a daily engine perk-me-up... I need coffee and I need to talk!!  After that, go
     ahead, just drown yourselves in the many emails that you've got to clear or wash that pile of laundry
     waiting for you at the utility corner! 

5.  If you are going to start somethig new (such as a new job, new hobby, etc) - start midweek!  That way
     you get to beat the blues and start fresh without thinking of the blues...

6.  Last but not least do look forward to the weekend, of course! Even though you know it's routine (at
     least for me...) but hey, c'est la vie! :)

 So how do you beat your Monday Blues? 
Share them or add on to the list here...

Have a bright day today!!

Friday, May 10, 2013


Finally the end of the week is here!  It's a relief especially for this week because it's also the last day of mid-year exams for my kids...YIPPEE!! I believe it's a similar situation for most of you who are parents too....

Speaking of exams...the first word that comes to the mind is usually - 'STRESS!!' I think this word is popping up more frequently and is often verbalised by the students and parents alike. 

Personally for a parent who's son is facing the
PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) at the end of this year ('s going to be VERY SOON!!!)....I can feel the stress level creeping up in me slowly but surely! 

But I wonder if my son is feeling the heat too because as far as I've been noticing lately, he's been rather relaxed and cool about it.  I know this is a good sign but to be honest, he's making me more of a nervous wreck with this calm and collected attitude!  Why? son is just an average scoring student and out of the 4 subjects he takes, he fairs either on the borderline or just under for 2 of the subjects....SO, that's why! :(

On the other hand, I know that some kids react negatively, i,e. expressing their stress through stress-related symptoms such as headache, fever and crying.  Recently, my friend has been sharing that her son (same level as mine) has been unwell and occurs frequently. When probed, he admitted that he was feeling stress about the upcoming papers.  Just today, another friend told me that her daughter ( a 3rd year secondary student) was in tears since the night through morning before going to school.  Her reason for the outburst - not confident that she could pass the math paper....

I'm now going back down memory lane when many years ago I had to take
my PSLE.  My recollection of school and exam life back then was 'CAREFREE'. I don't remember having my mom or granddad pushing me to study, do homework, etc.  The only nagging I got was "Memorise your time-table!"  Most of the time, the memory that I had of that period was filled with lots of playing time both at home and in school.  Did I have tuition?  Hmmmm....I don't think I had any except for the last year when I joined a group tuition on the weekend.  Even then, I dreaded going for it and thought it was such a waste of time as I'd rather be home playing or simply do nothing.

When the big day came, again I don't think I was feeling 'stress', except for just a tiny-winy bit of nervousness.  The funny thing was that I did pretty well for the exams.  I spent my holidays in Malaysia and remembered gettnig a call from my mom after she had gone to collect my results.  Incredibly, I passed! (3As & 1A*).  My mom even asked if I had cheated....LOL....because my friends were incredibly surprised too with my results as they told her that all I did was play in school (I was always initiating the play time during recess!)

So back to the present.... I know times have changed and the standard has gotten way too high for the kids (I'm not going to start lamenting about how tough the education system has become lately!) As much as I want him and his siblings to experience the carefree days that I had during my childhood, I know that if I totally slack in giving him the push, he would suffer the outcome.  So I've become one of those typical parents who has to succumb to signing up the kids for tuition & enrichment classes.  Even with these, there's no guarantee that he would do well enough to pass through the year with the minimum benchmark.  On top of that, I also have to deal with helping him to improve his overall well-being from the social skills perspective. 

As the timeline draws closer to September, I think the best that we can do for them now is to continue to pray and provide the unconditional emotional support for them!

Anyways, it's TGIF and whatever it is, the mid-year exam is done!  The weekend is here and I'm going to make sure that they get the much deserved breather after the past weeks of slogging out. 

So please my happy that it's TGIF!  We are looking forward to go a birthday party tomorrow!! 

What about you?  Have a happy weekend!!! :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013


On 8th May, the company that I'm working at, celebrated the 13th annual Community Day around the world to bring the company values to life and giving back to the communities. Here in Singapore, we went out to a local non-profit organisation which runs a family service centre.  The employees-turned-volunteers for the day were split into different teams doing multiple activities such as painting and re-furbishing key areas, assembling food packages and to have fun & interactive activities with the kids.  I chose to be involved with the kids' activities because for obvious reasons - it's something that is close to my heart as I'm a parent myself.

The morning started of well when we guided and supervised some 7 to 8 year olds with the paintings that they were tasked to do.  This was the same in the later part of the day, for the second group of kids who were much older ranging from 9 to 12 year olds.  As expected with any activities involving kids, there were excitement, cuteness and chaos all rolled up into one.  I guess I can say this because I've got 3 kids of my own within this age group and many, many years ago I had like close to 40 kids multiplied by 2 or 3.... Yes I was once upon a time a teacher!!!

As the day went by, I made an interesting observation amongst the volunteers which had a mixed of both genders (majority female) and also a combination of parents and those who are young and of single-status or married with no children yet. I noticed that for those who are parents, the reaction to the scene described above (in bold), was calm and collected (in general).  Interestingly, the latter group was looking at the kids with the "Awwwwww...they're so cute!" in the beginning to "Oh no! They're like little monsters...we need to get out....pronto!!"... only halfway through the day.  Whilst smiling at these small observations, I had a moment of insight to write on 'finding passion'

As I said earlier, I was once a teacher for the primary school level.  I remembered that being a teacher was not really a choice I made voluntarily.  Let's just say, I was just 'pushed' into it as my other options back then were limited.  After 2 years of training, I embarked on the journey to make teaching as my career.  It was actually not that bad really...I guess the foundation during the training years equipped me with the ability to cope at a basic level to do my job well.  

Over the years, I found my liking  in being with the kids growing bit by bit, at least when I'm with them fully during classroom time.  Of course, there were those 'hair-pulling' moments that led to the occassional migraines and the lost of voice which was really the No.1 occupational hazzard (at least in my case)!  But alas after 3 years in the service, I realised that my passion for teaching as a career was not strong enough to sustain my desire to continue the profession.

As much as I loved being in the classroom - imparting new knowledge and skills to the children, the frustration of all other non-teaching related matters began to take a toll on me.  Slowly, I dreaded the thought of progressing and seeing myself as a retired teacher was not in my line of vision for career success.  So I made the decision to leave after much consideration.  Although I was relieved that I made that decision, I recalled that I was actually quite affected with it especially after looking and reading at the many cards and letters that I received over the years from my students.  

I realised then that kids are kids....when they speak or is with utmost sincerity and this was reflected in their work of art (be it simple or complicated, big or small) when they give teachers their note of appreciation.

After I left the teaching profession, I tried on different jobs in the private sector, namely sales and marketing.  I thought as I began my new journey to explore the career path, I was also hoping to regain the passion or at least find new ones.  Verdict - I couldn't find it unfortunately! 

Then a few months later, an opportunity came knocking at my door!  The company was looking for a trainer to train their beauty consultants and at the same time would like the trainer to go to schools to conduct grooming talks for students!  Well...I know that I've always love anything related to beauty and fashion since I was in my teens,  and of course I had the experience as a I guess they found the right fit in me and offered me the role! :)  Hence began my career in training and as the saying goes..."the rest is history!"  

I rediscovered my passion in teaching in the form of training.  I believe it's not so much of the profession but the nature of the work that defines my passion.  I know that I simply love interacting with people and the art of communication is something that I take seriously.  Besides that, I love to knowledge, new skills, new ideas.... My husband, who knows me well enough from my teaching days till now, would affirm this passion of mine.  He even said that once I'm in my element, I will not stop 'blabbing'! hahaha.... Yes, I can go on and on....forever! (Gosh....I even talk in my sleep!!)

So now my career span in the training/learning & development capacity has been almost 20 years ( now you know how young I am!).  Do I still have the passion for it?  Definitely yes!  Am I still looking for new passion?  Well in fact, yes!  I know that some people (and many of whom are my friends) have discovered their passion (other than those professionally related) in art, jewelry making, baking, etc. 

I'm constantly on the lookout to discover new far, there's been quite a few that passes through like passing clouds, but nothing that's concrete that'd require me to act on it.  Perhaps one day, it'll come whichever direction it's from... and if it does, I'd like to share that with you for sure! 

What's YOUR passion?  
Have you discovered something new lately?  
I'd be happy to hear your finding passion moment......... 
Have a 'passion-ful' day! :-)

Monday, May 6, 2013


"Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you gonna get."
~ Forrest Gump
Source: Godiva Belgium Chocolate

This is so true isn't it?  You just never know what you'd get out of that box.  It's when you start picking one bad one after another, then you start to wonder if that's a sign that you need to rethink about things that are going around your life.  It's like you are constantly hit by roadblocks and your engine of life starts to stall.  This is the engine that represents your outlook of life and the force of energy that just won't kick-start!

I've gone through this engine stall countless of times and it's frustrating when you constantly need to think of how to re-start it.  This is especially so when it comes to work.   But time and time again I'd be telling myself "You need to re-start it!"  Again this is easier said than done (similar to the one mentioned in the 'Staying Positive' posting).

So I've decided to share my thoughts on how I'd face this dilemma and learn to overcome it (even if it has to happen multiple times...sigh)

The Root Cause
Just like how you would do with your car (if you have one or any other mechanical stuff that requires the use of energy/engine), I'd be looking out or rather analyse the root cause of the issue.  But first of all, I have to admit that this is not easy to do because let's face it....when you are stuck and frustrated...your brain just do not want to do the tedious job of analysing (at least for mine in most cases!)  The only thing that the brain will do at that point would be to just stream down this word "Why?!! repeatedly! 

It's only when I'm much calmer and have gotten over the frustrating phase, then only will I be able to think clearly with more objective questions in mind such as "What went wrong?; What's the reason for this?, etc"
The next question that would pop up would be "How frequent is this happening to me?"  or "How long have I been feeling like this?  Once I've gotten the answers to these questions, I more or less would have succeeded in getting a diagnosis.  The only caution that I'd remind myself is not to dwell or dig too much into the root cause as this may bring me down further.

Most of the time, the diagnosis will prevail after much brainstorming sessions with family members or friends AND after some moments of solitude with myself.  The thing about me is that I have to know the root cause first whether it's a personal or work-related matter.

The Ideal Look
Before I go into getting a prescription for my diagnosis, I'd also be spending some time thinking about how the ideal picture of my 'engine' would look like.  Usually I'd like mine to have a shine with vibrancy in it.  To me, those qualities reflect how I perceive life's outlook and energy to be since I was in my teens right up till now as a parent and working mom. 

Having that picture constantly in mind is crucial because that would be my ultimate goal to get my engine back in shape.  What I've learned recently and used often in my coaching sessions is visualisation.  The power of being able to visualise your goal is beyond description.  I think most of us are able to do this be it consciously or otherwise.  More often than not, the more you visualise and the more you believe in that vision, whatever goals or ideal picture you have would most often materialise.  But of course the chances of this likely to happen is when you add determination to that vision.

The Overhaul
The next step is the 'How' part.  I call this the 'Overhaul' as you would with a faulty engine. The overhaul really depends on the root of the issue, i.e. the diagnosis earlier. Whilst there may be some  differences in the approaches of the overhaul, I realised that there are common fixes which are applicable across all.  A couple of these to share today is...
  • Connecting with all things positive - essentially this is like getting or replacing new parts of your engine.  For instance, if I want to kick-start my creative juices to write training materials, I would be reviving my efforts to source for new innovative ideas and information to boost up my content.
  • Reciting the daily mantra - just like putting the engine oil to ensure that your engine runs on smoothly with a longer lifespan.  My mantra would come from my emo-scolls as well as in the form of my daily prayers.

Most often having the above fixes together with others that I've identified would ultimately bring me to a point where I'd feel that my engine of life and energy would be restored into the shine and vibrant engine that I've envisioned!  I should rename this post as 'My Overhaul Kit' actually...

Well that's it!  So what about you?  How would you re-start your engine?  How would you overhaul your engine to look like your ideal picture?  

Share your Overhaul Kit...

Thursday, May 2, 2013


When you are feeling down, what most people around you will say to comfort you is, "Come on...stay positive!"

I really do appreciate this short phrase of comfort but seriously when you are at the lowest point of the pits, it's easier said than done.  About 2 years ago, I got myself a life coach to help me sort out on things that I wanted to do.  I remembered one of my biggest dilemma was to stay motivated.  It was hard and took me a few sessions to realise that I need to be doing something significant to get myself up and going again.

One of the things that I thought through was giving myself a daily mantra.  Knowing myself, I didn't want the mantra to be some lengthy phrases or filled with quotes to memorise.  I wanted it personalise and something that shouts "That's ME!"

So I decided to create very own daily dosage of Emo-scrolls!! :) 

Each scoll contains mostly a 1-word emotion description such as these... 

I like the fact that these scrolls are bright and colourful as I love colours!  So how do I use them?  Easy....

Every morning before we set off to send the kids to school, I will unfold one scroll and read out the word that flashes through.  In order to embed this emotion futher, I would tweet the word too.  So that's basically how I'd keep motivating myself for the day by remembering the first emotion word that pops out in the morning.  The best part about this was that I was able to get my kids to participate and made it their mantra for the day too!  They looked forward to be able to pick the scroll of the day and unfolding the emotion behind it.... And oh by the way.... all the emotions written on the scolls are of course words that depict happiness!!  So that means it is non-negotiable that we stay positive throughout the day :P

So what's the one thing you would do to motivate yourself to stay positive?  Feel free to share.....

Have an AWESOME day! :-)