Start now as you are, with what you have, and grow.

Say less, and do more.

This is the time for action.

Intentionally not doing, or intentionally resting is also action.

So long as it’s driven by consciousness, you’re doing.

Done is also better than perfect. So it’s ok to start again, and to start now.

It’s ok if it’s 1% of the intended 100% – just start.

What have you done today, and what have you learnt today?

Let’s ask ourselves this everyday.

TC. VO. KTB. MIH.

Think creatively. Voice out. Kill that bitch – the negative voice. Make it happen!

Parents and children – do we honour them enough?

In the past almost 3 years of my marriage, I’ve had the honour of building relationships with a whole new family. Mothers, aunties, grandmothers, grand-aunties, uncles, fathers, cousins, nieces and nephews. The relationships I cherish most are the ones I’ve built with my mother-in-law and the elderly grandmothers in the family. There’s always a special story, a glint of tear sparked by a deep emotion triggered by a distant memory of a loved one, or of an impactful memory. There’s something very powerful and strong about all mothers of the world. Perhaps because I came from a family of many strong mothers – it has shaped me to look up to them and to know that the strength we see, is but the tip of the pillar of strength they’ve developed.

Today, I met Nenek Piah as everyone in my in-laws family fondly calls her. She comes over once every couple of months or so. A petite and frail lady with weathered, tanned skin – telling of her extended exposure to the sun from her many cycling rides. I glimpse at her face and wonder what the story is behind every crease on her face and the kind of experiences she must have lived through. She stutters as she speaks and only those closest to her can clearly make out what she’s saying. She rides a purple Piyo-piyo bicycle she claims has been her trusty companion, seeing her through motherhood, and bringing her all around Singapore. She’s small but fit. She claims to be 94 years of age, – “in 6 years, I’ll be 100!”, she retorts. Nenek Piah, I’m told is but a shadow of her younger sprightly self. She used to make the best noodle soups and the best cakes, everyone tells me. Now, her memory has started to fail her, and she has a tendency to repeat the same stories ever so frequently. She claims that many closest to her have accused her of begging, but she never begs, “Why should I? It’s a sin! Plus the police will catch me if I did!”

She also shares how her children and grandchildren look down upon her, for she has no money to contribute to the household. “They (referring to her grandchildren) hide the food from me! That’s fine – I’ll get by. If I have money, I’ll get myself a cup of coffee – kopi-o (Black coffee) is 80 cents, and kopi susu (coffee with milk) is $1.20!” If I don’t, that’s fine, I’ll sit quietly.” Also, I can’t work these days. Did you know employers can get fined if they hire someone as old as me?”  She continues to answer my questions – how she used to make $100 a month when she could iron clothes at one of the laundry shops in Eunos. She detests her children, whom she claims don’t care for her, and who have accused her of ill-treating their children. “Why would I ill-treat them?” she asks indignantly. She has tears in her eyes even though this is probably the 30th time I’ve heard her narrate the same story. I don’t know to what extent her stories are truthful, but it makes me think a lot.

It makes me ponder on how mothers are sensitive people, how they have expectations of their children, and how many of them in their late elderly years are probably hurt by the acts of their children and how it’s sad, even as an outsider to witness that. This isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed this. My own elderly grandmother has grown more sensitive too, and often finds herself hurt by the acts and words of her children and grandchildren, even if they may have been driven by good intentions. I suppose, in a society, that has successfully shaped us to believe that self-worth is linked to the ability to independently care for yourself, to create wealth and to care and provide for yourself and others – it is easy to feel insecure and have that manifest into sensitive thoughts of someone’s lack of care for you.

Yet, whose responsibility is it? Is it the child’s responsibility to understand that as your parents age, they are likely to be more sensitive and to therefore respond with greater care, love and patience? Or should parents be the ones to expect less – and to learn how to control and manage their expectations – and not think they’re entitled to care by their children just because they took care of these children when they were younger? It’s a sensitive topic for which there clearly is no straight answer, and for which there’s always a subjective view, complicated further by each family’s unique dynamics and circumstances.

And yet, I feel like in the ideal world – where theory rules, children ought to be more giving. They ought to empathise with their parents who oftentimes have to come to terms with losing many aspects they took for granted – health, independence, agility and strength. Simple things like going to the washroom, preparing food, and running errands may no longer come at ease. This understandably results in mounting frustration and questioning of their self-worth, giving way to a shorter temper and a more sensitive nature.

In the ideal world too, a parent will nurture their children, give them the best of themselves – with love, kindness and patience, and yet not expect any returns from their children when they’re aged. As a young parent myself, I say this with hesitation – because clearly, the ideal world is not how reality is. Our real lives is fraught with expectations, ego, hopes and dreams. As parents, we do think we deserve the attention of our children when we’re elderly. We do expect the same patience we showed our children when they were young and completely dependent on us. I mean, isn’t that the least they can do for us? And yet, expectations only begets disappointment at times. Clearly, there is no moral judgment in the views to be held by parents and children alike – it is tough to cast judgment when each has had their own unique upbringing and experiences to have shaped what they think is right.

A recent sharing by Imam Omar Suleiman encapsulates this well though –

Sincerity (ikhlas), which is the opposite of showing off (Riya) is that you are indifferent to the praise of others. This causes you to be always drivern to good whether or not anyone else is watching. 

Truthfulness (Sidq), which is the opposite of conceit (‘Ujb) is that you are indifferent to the praise of your own self. This causes you to always be driven to better because you can never be too good. 

sincerity and truthulness

In this context, sincerity and truthfulness is relevant. Imagine if children were sincere and truthful, they’d then persevere to keep doing good in the context of their parents, and yet remain truthful / humble in that what’s good can always be improved upon.

Likewise with parents – they’ll strive to care for their kids, because that is what’s right, and when it’s done with sincerity – it comes with no strings attached. And without any  expectations (driven by conceit – “clearly I was a good parent/ did so much, and therefore ought to be ‘rewarded’/ taken care of”), one is more content, and anything that comes, becomes a bonus, and a gift that usually inspires gratitude.

What do you think? Is this truly possible?

How can we master our egos, ditch the expectations, and truly be truthful and sincere in life, and in every role that we play? Would love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

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

person holding compass

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

I love you but I’d like that 1 more hour..

So I’ve just recently started work again after a 4 months Long maternity leave period.

In fact, today was my second day back at office. After a long day, I had the option of choosing the following:

1) wait for hubby to fetch me as he usually does (but that will mean a tiring 30mins drive in bad traffic)

2) take the bus home – takes about an hour or so to reach home

Both would result in me reaching home at approximately the same time -but the former will mean I’ll be stuck in office longer waiting for my hubby and him having to make an arduous trip in crazy traffic and also less “me time”

The latter would be a more indirect way home but I’ll get to collect my thoughts and reflect a little more on what it is I’d like to do.

Lately, I’ve realised how overly ambitious I can be and how these lofty dreams and aspirations of mine often end up being unfulfilled because the dreams aren’t matched with one particular resource in particular- time and space. (Just realised how this could actually be a sign of anxiety – but that will be a topic another day).

For instance, I bought this thin rollable magnetic whiteboard that I’ve since stuck on my room cupboard just so I can track on a weekly basis-my progress on the important things to achieve for each of these aspects: prayers, self, fitness, family, investing in future, and self care. And just to give you an idea of how much I’ve fallen short- I fared at 32% or completed just 9 out of 32 items on my list. :/ see image below. But of course, I console myself that starting is better than not planning/ aspiring at all- and so I push forth on this relentless path to progress.

And yet- I’d also like to move closer to that 100%. I’m aware of the many schools of thoughts there are to unlocking higher performance – like Stephen Corvey’s 7 habits of highly effective people that talks about the need for prioritization of rocks first, etc.

But fundamentally- after having evaluated my first week of embarking on this weekly list- I also realised the biggest factor for this GAP as the underestimation of time taken to care for a baby.

I love my baby- and everyday when I get to hold him in my arm, I’m struck by how lucky I am to have been blessed with this little miracle of life. And yet- I also crave for my time alone and for time to do my own things. I still want to achieve my fitness goals and cram in that torturous gym session that kills but makes me feel stronger and fitter afterwards, and I still want to realise my business ideas (which require uninterrupted hours of research and brainstorming – a luxury I’ve not had much of lately) even if that means not seeing him for half a day at least and I still want to meet friends and family (this has dropped down to the end of the list of priorities, for a while now) and socialise once in a while even if that means taking time away from him.

I don’t think I’m selfish for wanting these things but let’s face it- unless one has a strong support network (in the form of kind family members, or extra resources to fund infant care), their achievement rate of that aspirational list is likely to stay at 32% or in fact, I dare say way lower than that – unless of course, I lower my expectations on the aspiration list. My meagre 32% is already standing on the shoulders of countless of hours of support and sacrifice of my amazing Mother-in-law, my grandmother-in-law, Sister-in law, and 2 domestic helpers. So I know I should count myself fortunate- and yet, I can’t help but wish I had more time so that I don’t have to “curate” that list to make it a less ambitious one. But instead, to comfortably attain a healthy 80% week on week achievement without having to lower my expectations.

To achieve this- one of the following needs to happen:

1) I’ll need to sacrifice sleep (as it is I get about 5-6 hours of often interrupted sleep- so this is most likely a no-go unless I wish to turn into a human being with an overly caffeinated (read:hyperactive zombie) mind)

2) I’ll need to get more help:

(i) trouble my in-laws to support even more (as it is, they’re already shouldering at least 8-9 hours every weekday, and another 5-6 hours over the weekend)

(ii) trouble my husband to do more although that remains unlikely, because, as it is, his work has been taking up to 20 hours of his time a day so between the two of us – any additional free time ought to be devoted to catching up on rest and sleep, if anything.

(iii) send my kid to infantcare? (A possibility that will help free up the time of everyone but still anxious about the prospect of my little one being exposed to more illnesses, and the level of care of the child-carers, plus the financial cost of an additional $500-2000/ month at least)

(iv) reduce the time I have at work? (Swop to a part time/ flexi work hour thing?) so I can dedicate time to that list of aspirations, or

(v) review that list first – because maybe over-ambitiousness is great – but not all that practical when you havea little one to care for. ( OK to be honest, the items list is definitely optimizable – but the 5 aspects I highlighted are still key.)

Hmm – Let’s see how this goes. I will be reviewing my next couple of weeks and letting you know if that % improves at least!

Stay ambitious!

Love,

Khairah

Smart Goals of 2018

So, here is my list of resolutions for 2018. Ambitious much, I must admit, but one must dare to believe and push one’s self if she is to achieve the extraordinary. Let’s do this!

  1. Write a book – on Marketing (Top 10 marketing campaign ideas)
  2. Be present when with loved ones
  3. Pray 5 times a day
  4. Read at least 12 non-fictional books
  5. Go for at least 3 fitness classes a week
  6. Travel to at least 3 countries for leisure
  7. Learn swimming
  8. Start on the app for PK
  9. Hire someone for PK
  10. Go snorkelling in one of the destinations with hubby

Striving

It’s been a while. My soul has felt detached and then too preoccupied, there has not been sufficient space to reflect just quite yet. We crave for attention, and then we shy away from it when it gets overwhelming. Is there quite a perfect balance, or is ‘optimum’ only a utopian dream? Always in excess or deprived – and then you struggle within to reach it again. Can we truly arrive? How do we find enough within us to keep the strive alive?