Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The pursuit of perfection...

Pic from Facebook

For a long time, I was led to believe that being perfect was the ultimate goal.  I can't trace how or why this became part of what I thought was correct.

In any case, it was the pursuit of perfection that has probably caused many people unnecessary stress.  Even when I thought it was right, I don't think that I consciously sought for perfection.  I always felt that doing my best was what mattered.

When I was in primary school, I remember not feeling confident after an examination. My whole demeanour was affected.  Someone, I don't remember who, noticed and asked me why.  When I explained the gloom, the person said this, "If you had done your best at that moment, then that is all you need to know". I found those words comforting.

Today, I saw this image with Paulo Coelho's words and it triggered this memory.  

Now I understand why people want that perfect bag or shoe or dress. They long for the perfect partner, with a perfect garden and a perfect house.  They dream of a perfect life.  It's a perfect plan.

Now I get it.  It's a disguise for insecurity.  This suddenly makes complete sense to me.

I may not be perfection but I'm normal.  There isn't that need to make everything perfect.  I'm secure that my imperfection is what makes me unique.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

I dare you!

Pic from Facebook

It's really a strange world out there in Facebook land!  Rather than be the person that they are in real life, many choose to portray a completely different persona.

This begs the question of why they do it!  Could there be a reason for hiding behind a facade?  

People must love you for who you are and it is precisely for this reason that we must dare to be who we are.

Any other way and it won't last.  

When we end the masquerade and the charade, those still remaining in our lives, are the ones that truly know us and love us.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Pic from FB
With the elections just around the corner, it just occurred to me that people won't like me if I don't act a certain way.  

Will this upset me?  Maybe.  Or maybe not!

Many of my family members and friends don't agree with what I perceive and that's okay.  I'm happy to say what I need to, if they ask.  I'm also happy not to say anything, if they aren't interested.

The thing is that we shouldn't be with people who pressure us to do anything that we are not comfortable doing.  We should do what we believe is right and everyone else should just accept it.

I'd say the same goes for our religious beliefs!

Monday, April 15, 2013

How I learnt to speak Spanish?

I was in my mid-30s.  Not a great time to start learning a language but circumstances of my new job plus a bit of pushing and shoving from my boss, Jorge Bayona (God bless his heart) made me join a Spanish Language class.  

It wasn't in the best period of my life and I went under duress.  

It began in a beginner's two-hour class held twice or was it thrice weekly.  I can't remember now.  The classes weren't something I looked forward to because it was in the evenings and after a full day of work.  The teacher, Agustin Gutierrez was from Mexico.  I think he's a very good teacher.  I didn't know then but looking back, I realise that he was very good at his job.

The first lesson began without me.  I don't know how I missed it but I did.  Anyway, I attended my first class and was unpleasantly surprised to find that the teacher spoke completely in Spanish!  

Fortunately, they hadn't done much in the first lesson which probably would have been introductions and getting to know each other.

I was really unhappy but my pride set in and I decided to make it work.

The lessons were not very easy and the only reason I was able to follow everything was because earlier, I had taken a very short conversational Spanish class.  That didn't amount to anything and at the end, I was unable to follow or make any conversations with the Spanish-speaking community.

However, memory is such that when it's in your head, it lays dormant just like riding a bicycle.  Slowly, the words began to have meaning and it became easier.

At that time, everything was difficult for me because I didn't have the right attitude about it.  I was attending because I had to and not because I wanted to.

In hindsight, learning Spanish turned out to be such a great distraction during a period of discontent. Later, I would realise and appreciate the value of communicating in another language.

Anyway, that's another story.  

The reason for this post is to highlight the steps that I took to master a foreign language.  

1.  I paid attention in class and did my homework.  I'm a good student.  There's no denying this.  Okay, I'll admit that I begged my colleague on several occasions to help me with homework.  Manuel if you ever read this, I want to say "Gracias" again.  You were my "ángel disfrazado".

2.  I read Selecciones which is the Spanish version of Reader's Digest.  This was the hardest thing to do.  I didn't enjoy it and just browsed through the titles and jokes.  Maybe today I would find it interesting but not when I was a beginner.

3.  I made efforts to follow conversations whenever possible.  This was one of the main reasons why learning the language was important.  My colleagues could no longer speak freely when I was around.  Hah!

4.  I joined the 'Red Latina" which is a Spanish chat forum.  I found out that I could spell better than many there.  The people on the other side of the globe didn't believe I was a Malaysian and chatting with them in their own language.  I discovered words that you don't learn in a formal classroom. These little inroads boosted my confidence.  

5.  I listened to songs in Spanish. This was the easiest! It was strange because, at the beginning, it was like listening to a Chinese or Hindustani song.  You like the music but don't understand anything.

So I did the next best thing, I played the cassettes over and over again and wrote out the lyrics.  Those were the days when 'Google' didn't exist yet!  As Spanish was so alien to me, I couldn't figure out many of the phrases.  For this, I have to say that my boss, would happily check if the words I wrote, made sense.  He'd correct them and occasionally, he would sit with me and listen to whatever song I chose, and help me get the phrases that I couldn't catch.

Once I had the lyrics, I'd play that song on my way to work and on my way home.  I'd sing in the car and it made me feel like I was already a native Spanish speaker/singer!  BUT singing a song and speaking are worlds apart because if you strike up a conversation with anybody, they'll expect you to respond and what was I going to do then?  Break into a song!!!! 

It was disheartening.  After three hundred hours of lessons, I was still unable to say that I could speak the language.

But I persisted on my own and kept up with the songs of Ricardo Montaner, Laura Fygi, Chabuca Granda, Eva Ayllon, Camilo Sesto, Luis Miguel, Laura Pausini, of course Ricardo Arjona and many others whose names I don't remember.

Months after I finished the three levels of Spanish, JB gave me a cassette of Arjona songs.  Specifically he asked me to listen to "El Taxista".  He said, "listen and see if you can catch the story".  AND just like that, I did!  I understood what it was about.  I had to check some words on my own but I knew the story in the song.

That's what learning a language is all about. You have to immerse yourself in it.  You have to read, write, listen and love it.  

If you're struggling today with a new language, I have this to say, "one day, without even realising, you'll be thinking in that language and that's the day you'll know you've mastered it."

When I had to take my final test for the Advanced Level, my boss told me to spend the whole afternoon to do my revision.  "No more office work today", he said.  I had the best marks in the class. 

I have to put on record that it was due to JB's encouragement and  support that I was able to master the language.  When he left Malaysia after seven years, I was not only able to speak and write, I was able to perform my duties more efficiently.


Some people come into your life and they change you forever.  

This post is dedicated to you, Jorge Bayona for a life-changing distraction.

And I haven't forgotten the song you said was for me even before I turned 40!  I chanced upon it on youtube and it brought back all these memories that I have put down in this post.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Revenge is sweet...

Pic from FB

I love the beginnings of each month.  It means that we get new US TV series which we can watch at anytime that we like.  

Before, I used to be so happy when I could be the first to watch a show or movie.  Now I've changed my mind.  When Revenge 2 began showing in the US, I was wondering if I should subscribe to it and watch it.  Somehow I didn't get around to doing it and and I forgot about it for a bit.

When March arrived, there were 3 episodes of Revenge 2.  In April, they added another 5 episodes.  The good thing is that it's available to us, since we subscribe to the US TV Series.

Recently, the children came to visit.  How did we start the holiday?   GG and I watched all eight episodes (back to back), stopping only for dinner.  I was glad that I hadn't paid earlier to watch one episode at a time.  It was more fun to watch the episodes one after the other.  In May, we'll get the remaining episodes!  GG, will you be coming back??

Most of the other TV series have complete seasons available.  People usually ask me what I do with my time.  Well, this is one of the things that I do.  

It's such a simple thing but gives me much pleasure.  The only snag is that once I start watching a TV series, I almost always find myself stuck in front of the TV till I've watched the entire season.  

Once I was up until 4 am watching Criminal Minds.  That's my record so far.

If SFG is not working and begins watching a series with me, we usually have a kind of picnic in front of the TV.  I think our record was 3 am watching Person of Interest Season 2.  

Thankfully, I can do all this now without worrying about being tired the next day.  Even if I wake up early, I can snooze anytime I want.  Such is the life of a retiree!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Nothing like bonding.

Pic from FB
The children just spent six days with us.  This time around, it was less hurried or harried.  We'd done the touristic stuff before, well, most of it!  Now we just did the usual day-to-day routine things and, of course, the ever important meeting up with some family members.

It's nice when there is no deadline to beat and no timetable to stick to because it's when stories come out.  

This time around, it was a story that touched me and one that I didn't know about.  

Jared said that when he started primary school, he would carry a picture of me and if he felt lost or lonely or scared, he'd take a quick look at it.  Looking at my photo made him feel better, he said.

I never knew that he did this until he casually mentioned it.  The image of him needing to do that made my heart ache a little.  I didn't realise that in his own way, he'd found the solution to facing his own realities and fears.  He was only seven or eight then.  Even so young, he was very much a survivor, just like I am.

Did he know I carried a picture of him and his brother with me?  Each time I needed to face another challenge, I only had to look at the picture of them.  Unknown to each other, we'd both done the same thing, when we needed a boost.

Now that he is a grown man, I think he understands and values this connection that we have, in a different way.

This bond we share: there really is nothing quite like it.  Not for me, anyway. Not for him, either.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

All this and more...

Image from FB

All this is true, for sure.  What's missing is that it doesn't end there!

Many worry about not having time for fun or peace of mind but all that comes again, later in life. When the kids are all grown up, they live their own life but their joys and successes become your own.  Even their thrills and spills get the heart pumping with excitement.

So when the children are in their mid-20s, what next?  The visitssssssss!  Their taking time off from their world to be in our world just makes me want to burst with joy. 

There are no more worries about looking after them.  Now they can look after themselves.  This is the cycle of life and all their growing years seem so fleeting.

Once, they were so needy and helpless and they are now all grown up and helpful.

The kids are on their way to us!!  Again!!!!  If you have children, you'll know what I'm feeling right now.  

So blessed, I can't contain it!  Yeehaw!

Okay, I shouldn't be here now.  I have a million things to do!  The kids are coming today!  Got to go now.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Renovations done!

Most of my family and friends know that I am such a Facebook Fan.  For this reason, Stephen allowed me to redecorate the living area!

Everything is blue and white!  It's all about Facebook now!  :)

G O T C H A !
Source: Pic from WWW