Defining 2019

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We’re hours away from 2020- which seems both full of promise and challenge. I vaguely remember how, about 3 decades ago – the then Prime Minister of Malaysia (who’s once again the Prime Minister of Malaysia – who would have imagined?) shared on his ambitious Wawasan 2020 – and how as a youth, it sounded so grandiose and distant.

Yet, here we are literally moments shy of this big decade switch – and I feel.. weathered but hopeful. Equal parts calm and anxious – enough to make me want to sit up straight, and pace my breathing. A bundle of mixed feelings, really.

2019 rounded up with painful lows and enough highs to leave me cautiously optimistic but also open to the fact that anything can happen.

Here are 4 defining moments for 2019 that I wish to remember:

  1. I became a mother! Indisputably, the biggest life blessing and life milestone I’ve experienced to date and also one accompanied by large sacrifices and huge responsibility. This big life transition has left me with so much joy and love in my heart that has made my husband and I want to do better and be better for him. And although there is nothing in this world I would trade my little baby and the honour of being his mother for, it would be a lie to say it’s been a walk in the park. Despite being blessed with so much support from my mother in law and extended family that has allowed me to still work, there have been sacrifices too. The daily parenting struggle: less sleep, milk- diaper- food demand-clothes-creams and lotions’, insurance (etc etc) selection and demand- supply planning and inventory management, developmental activities, milestones and time together is transcended by the sobering responsibility of raising another human – whom you know will be shaped by the values you live by and the decisions you make. That continues to place much pressure. Mothering and working has left me less room for my parents, friends and passion projects – but I remain optimistic that things will improve in 2020 with better planning. (ever the optimist, albeit a more cautious one)
  2. A close mentor was hit by a grave illness. Once a sprightly and fit man, I broke down in tears upon seeing him immobile and unconscious. I’ve seen this happen before to another dear high-flying corporate mentor – but seeing this happen once again, to another person whom I’ve worked with so closely in the past couple of years, and who has both inspired and taught me so much, has shaken me deeply. Life is fleeting and unpredictable, and health is truly everything. As a person of the Islamic faith, I take comfort in the belief that God is the best planner, and that everything will unfurl exactly the way it’s meant to – regardless of what we think is best. It has also reminded me to not take the future for granted – to take action now and consistently for things that matter. To call my mum and grandma *today*, to invest in self-care *now*, to take time to plan for your loved ones in the event that you’re no longer around, and to take steps to making that dream come true now. It has reminded me to translate the gratitude of being blessed with yet another day in health by being present and striving for excellence in all that I do, with humility and heart.
  3. Obama’s sharing – Always act from a position of hope and courage, and never of fear. Living in a competitive Asian society like Singapore where certain versions of success are more celebrated than others has left me with several FOMO (fear of missing out) and vulnerable – “am I enough” moments – and I see this present in the way conversations with my peers pan out. The subtle need to compare how we’re doing relative to others is but an outcome of a society that’s constantly measuring who’s younger, better and more accomplished. This one take-away has reminded me to focus on what matters. Acting out of fear –whether it’s the fear of missing out, or fear of not being enough is unproductive as it drags you away from an empowering position of what -can-I-do to uplift this situation to one of helplessness (what-will-I-lose-as a result of this situation). Changing our frame of mind and attitude is truly half the battle won, already. For with the right mindset (and coffee), you can conquer the world.
  4. Wealth and talent are impactful enablers, only if you’re not afraid to use them.  This was something I grappled with a large part of my life. Having come from humble origins, my goal for a large part of my life was to study hard, gain a stellar education and earn a ticket to an awesome well-paying job, save up and work for the rest of my life, and maybe retire someday. Yet, gone are the days of the iron rice bowl. Lives are disrupted with new technology and bravado by individuals who care to change the world. Stable corporations with decades of existence can be rocked overnight with the advent of new hungry underdogs who change the way problems are defined and who dare to introduce innovative solutions. All of us – are blessed with our own inclinations, talents, experiences and inspirations – that could translate into us becoming agents of positive impact should we choose to. But, it won’t be possible until we can truly embrace the entrepreneurial mindset that dares to use wealth, time and talent for their true noble purpose, and to invest them where paths are less forged in solving problems that matter.  To enable greatness, you must dare to be different. I’ve seen so many remarkably talented individuals – from ivy league institutions whose sole goal is to get a leg in the door of corporations, and run the machinery of large well-oiled corporations – sure, that’s not a bad way to live at all, and indeed, to each man, his own. Yet, I can’t help but wonder how amazing it’ll be if more of these outliers would dare to put that talent, persistence and drive into solving real problems that aren’t getting the time and resources of the day, that they deserve. What I’m saying is, if we realise, how much impact we can bring, to the world and lives by choosing to solve one problem – be it as a side hustle/ a passion project or even a full blown life-consuming gig, we’ll all be the richer for it. This entrepreneurial mindset – is something I realise most of us are not born with – especially not in Singapore, where thankfully, the system works and for a large part of our education, we’re taught to fix and optimize, as opposed to create and innovate.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed reading these. What were some of your life-defining insights gleaned from 2019?  Leave a comment – I’d love to read them.

Here’s wishing you a fantastic 2020 ahead – one filled with optimism, bravado, courage and hope. Let’s make it happen!

 

A new you

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Photo by Valentin Antonucci on Pexels.com

Hi,

I’m typing this at my dining table at home, after a solid cup of gold (read: coffee). Just watched a couple of videos from the Bucketlist family, and they moved me so much. They represent so many good qualities that inspire me – qualities and values like authenticity, integrity, courage, purpose and passion. To do what is right – even when it may not feel like the easiest thing to do. To try, and step up in making your dreams happen. To choose family and to celebrate them everyday in the littlest and grandest of gestures – but oftentimes, through shared experiences that challenge and redefine your worldview, and not so much, through material pleasures. I’m trying to find their email, so that I can write to them and tell them how I feel – that even if my dreams don’t come true, that I have decided to pursue them, one at a time because they have inspired me to. Life is a journey – never a straight path, but one of curves, and sometimes, downward-slopes, but as long, as you’re growing to be a braver, true-er person, you’re on the right path.

What’s your journey to a more authentic you – gonna be like? Have you revisited your self lately? Are you in touch with who you are and how you want to grow? Don’t give in to the shackles of life – just because it is the way it has been for so long. There is no ‘path’ except for the ones we choose to create for ourselves. If you gather your courage to revisit ‘you’, you may uncover just who you’re meant to be, and what that looks like in terms of the steps ahead.

Much love and peace to you – and I hope you give flight to those wings.

Khairah

Ode to 2015

So, it appears that crafting an ode (or eulogy) to 2015 is now in trend, so allow me to hop right on the bandwagon here. 🙂

Before I start proper though, I must add the disclaimer that a date is just a date – technically, if you want to give the 12th of March CRAZY significance and decide that it will be the day your life CHANGES, then, chances are it will. So likewise for 01/01/2016. But of course, to many (even me), that date reset to 01.01 becomes symbolic of the hope for a happier, more fulfilling, balanced and meaningful life we all envision. So yeah, let’s embrace it, and make it count!

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I hope for 2016 to be a lot like 2015 – where there was opportunity for growth, travel, making new friends, learning, lots of reading, reflecting, emoting, sticking it out, making mistakes, but reflecting on how to grow from them, embracing spontaneous impulses and arguing but making peace once more with loved ones.

I also hope that more than 2015, 2016 will bring even higher productivity levels, skills, and persistent commitment and relentless pursuit of perfection in everything I do, and that it surrounds me with even more positive role models who inspire me to be an even grander version of myself, and for me to pay it forward by being valuable to others in whichever way I can too, In sha Allah.

Here’s an attempt to pay it forward in a small way, a compilation of 5 interesting insights I’ve learnt this year – enjoy! So many more learnt, but just a short one for now.

  1.  Perspectives will always just be that, perspectives. Yours is as valuable as your nemesis. Where decisions have to be made though, instead of just arguing your view, find a neutral way to assess the better way forward (like surveying a few people or asking a neutral person to decide) – then accept the outcome graciously and let it go. This one is tried and tested!
  2. Negotiations – have you ever had to negotiate the terms of a contract before? At the start, it may seem that the business partner is highly engaged and all out to making it work, but perhaps after a while (sometimes, especially it seems after the contract has been concluded, signed and sealed but not yet delivered), it may seem that delivery on commitments may be amiss, or not meeting your expectations. In this book I read, The Small Big – small changes that spark big influence (which I highly recommend), it states that “to optimize the likelihood that people will follow through with their intentions, it is necessary to consider asking a couple of extra and specific questions about how they plan to go about accomplishing the goal they’ve promised to pursue.” It often helps clarify feasibility of expectations and translates into higher chances of actualization of plans.
  3. Cause and effect to everything. An unwarranted behaviour is often a result of something deeper. Whether at work, relationships, etc.Digging deeper will often reveal an invisible truth that’s worth tackling with more compassion than the symptom. (Everyone is really fighting their own battles.)
  4. Dream BIG. Really BIG, say nay to the naysayers. When you aim for the stars, you’ll fall to the clouds, way higher than where you began anyway.
  5. Give your all, wherever you are, whatever you do – relationships, work, projects. You will get hurt, disappointed, etc  but it is still worth it, because that’s the only way to live – courageously. 

I pray that 2016 brings you all that your heart desires. Up up and away~ Happy New Year! 🙂

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Are you Angry?

Conversations at Sheikh Rashid Terminal, Dubai:

Immigration Guy: Are you angry? (Heard it as ‘Hungry’ and wondered if he heard my stomach growling or something)

Me: Umm, no.

Immigration Guy: Are you sure? Who made you angry?

Me: Oh, angry? Haha, no not angry. (Breaks into smiles as a natural response)

Immigration Guy: (Smiles back, and hands passport back to me).

Ahh, I see what you did there. Couldn’t help thinking about it all the way back home.

Are you angry? Who made you angry? No? Not angry? Why aren’t you smiling then? 🙂

How many times do we forget to relish and enjoy the presence of the present? How do we choose to live by the moment, and who do we choose to become? Would you still smile when the music ends, or when there doesn’t seem to be any reason to, or will you learn to be better able to find a reason to smile?

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Kahwin

Convos with my grandma

K: Grandmaaaaaa~

G: Kau, kalau tak nak kahwin, jangan cakap dengan aku.. (Translation: If you don’t want to get married, don’t talk to me)

K: :/ Ok bye!

G: *Comes towards me* with “=/” expression.

Hahahah, this is both frustrating and amusing.

My love, my dear grandma, this is a clarification first and foremost to myself, and then once again to you – as I’ve explained umpteen times, marriage is not something that can be imposed or forced. One’s heart must first be open to it, and to that significant other one is introduced to, or match-made with. We should not rush for the sake of it. Sure, expectations are different for both of us, in your mind, marriage is a means to an end (fulfillment and kids) – as it is in mine (except I hope it’s a means to Jannah). We differ slightly here: yours is a closer ‘stop-over’, and mine’s the end hopefully. Yet, the expectations of this significant other that we both have, and how he should be like, differ so vastly.

So, she’s been nagging at me endlessly as to why I’ve been rejecting every other potential candidate.

First and foremost, I’m not looking for Shah Rukh Khan, Ryan Gosling or Brad Pitt. Or a Bill Gates, Richard Branson or Jack Mah for that matter. 😛

The guy I’m looking for, should be someone with whom I can at least have interesting conversations with, is sincere in getting to know me too, naturally curious, optimistic, religiously grounded and with whom I have a decent amount of ‘chemistry’ with. THAT, that last factor there – chemistry, is what I feel will allow for interesting conversations and companionship.

There’s no right and wrong here, Grandma. Your views are perfectly acceptable too. Except when imposed on another person.

For all those times, you’ve been pushing me towards taking that next big step forward with Candidate X, because you judged based on hear-say that he’s a nice guy, serious, and kind enough. You’re not wrong there. Just that, I can’t see it. :S

Maybe, just maybe it could be something inherent. Maybe I am not ready for marriage yet. Or maybe he’s not the right one, (which could also be why I’m not ready for marriage yet). Either way, please understand, trust me when I say I’m trying and do continue to make Du’a for me. I’m sure with your continued prayers, someday my heart will be open to someone, and that will Insha Allah, pave the way for marriage. 🙂

PS: Fine, I won’t talk to you for now, except you know this won’t last for long. 😛

All my love,

Your favourite Grand-daughter. (Self-assumed position)