Friday, December 31, 2010
Its pretty obvious that no one is immune to making mistakes and taking wrong turns in this journey of life. Not even a grown adult of 45 years and 11 months. As much as I grimace at the idea of making yet another mistake, I prefer that than live a life of cowardice. I am truly a student who learns from making mistakes. No teacher is better than a life full of experience.
Somewhere within this year, I decided to adopt a different mental stance in looking at life. Only focus on the good and beautiful. Forget the bad and walk away from the ugly. There were some sacrificial lambs necessary in my learning process. But in the end, I walk away feeling glad I learned something good out of the bad and ugly.
In 2010, I lost some loved ones through death and circumstances in life. I also found my true character and saw my weaknesses and shortcomings as they truly are. I also saw people in their real colors. They shone through my blind denial and showed me who I can and cannot trust. As painful as these lessons are, these are the pearls of wisdom I wish had come earlier in my life. However, I am thankful all the same for all these lessons despite its delay, for I believe that for as long as I have learnt well, I can armor myself from future pains and disappointments. All is NOT lost.
Recently, I confided in my soul sister, Wa, about my bout of forgetfulness. I told her how I had gone to a mall to purchase a pair of new jeans for my Europe trip and had asked for a size 32. When I found that size 32 was too loose for me, I had asked for size 31 and still couldn't get it to fit me well. I had thought to myself that maybe I have lost some weight and was quietly pleased with myself when I went home with a size 30 pair of jeans. I even shared my delight with darling hubby and he was equally happy for me. However, upon reaching home, when I found my old pair of jeans, I discovered that my actual size is 30 and not 32 as I had thought! Oh my God! I had not any weight but had lost my memory! How hilarious is that?!
And then the wisdom came to me like a divine revelation. Sometimes, when we forget something, its God's way of keeping us happy by letting us forget the less pleasant things about life. Consider it like a form of mental house keeping for emotional health! So, when you can't remember something terrible that may have happened in the past, don't dredge it up. Its not worth it. Let sleeping dogs lie. Let bygones be bygones. It is true that its easier to forgive than to forget. So when you forget, is it as good as forgiven? I don't know the answer to that question. I promise to share the answer if and when I get it. Will I be darting around looking for the answer to that question? No. It will come to me. And if it never does, I guess forgotten means forgiven. Forgotten also means it doesn't matter anymore.
Good riddance to bad rubbish. I open my mind, heart and soul to the bountiful blessings waiting for me in the new horizon. Yes. I walked away from the bad and ugly. I'm so far gone that I've finally found peace of mind and security.
Ya, Allah. Be gentle on me...
Sunday, December 26, 2010
After two grueling days of making our way from London to Paris, we arrived in the city of love via the TGV express train and disembarked at Gare du Nord train station. We were very glad to see that the heavy snow did not follow us to that city, despite the freezing temperature. After checking into a hotel opposite the train station, we made our way to a nearby restaurant to have our first Parisian dinner. It was hard to keep the excitement in the air when travel fatigue threatened to make us just wanna climb into bed and sleep like a bear. Poor Lissa was so sick from all the train rides that she threw up almost all of the French onion soup she ordered for dinner. It didn't help that she saw a man pick his nose and put his pickings into his mouth! Uber yucks! Finishing dinner was such an effort for us all and we spent the remainder of our energy just falling into bed... dead to the world!
Since we only had 1 solid day to tour Paris, we decided to stick to the few top 'must-see' spots in the city. Thankfully, after learning from me in London, JC took to navigating us through Paris Metro like a duck to water. She expertly guided us to our first stop - The Eiffel Tower.
Lissa let out a squeal of excitement when she spotted the tip of the tower as we climbed the steps up from the Metro station. Despite the chilly wind, we braved through the crowd and traffic and made our way to the foot of the tower. Along the way, many souvenir vendors paved the path leading up to the site, selling miniature Eiffel Towers in all sorts of colors.
I lead JC, our official photographer, to the very center of the tower base to take an upward snapshot. The reason for this is simply because this was not something normal people would wanna do. So, here it is!
The girls took some more photographs of themselves with the tower as their backdrop while Jasmene and I explore the souvenir shops. I bought some postcards to post from the tower so that it will bear the Eiffel Tower stamp. I sent them to Mom, Eri (my brother) and my soul sister, Wa. Pretty soon, the chilly wind got even colder until some of the souvenir vendors on the site began packing their wares and heading home. We, on the other hand, had a few more stops to make before we can consider that option. Paris in a day? Crazy!!
Our next destination was Notre Dame Cathedral. This time, it was JC who let out a girlish squeal as she saw the famous landmark. We walked through the thickening crowd and busy traffic to the front entrance of the cathedral. Mind you, I have been to all these places when I was 18 years old, and yet it never fails to take my breath away to see the magnificent architecture of that building. The inside is another awesome sight. Every details of the building was still as how I remember it. Simply awesome.
After completing our little tour inside the cathedral, we found ourselves in a restaurant nearby to silence our grumbling tummies. A plate of pasta and a cup of cafe au lait gave us the energy we needed to venture further to our next destination. Looking at the remaining hours of daylight that we had left, we decided that The Louvre Museum would be the best place to head for.
I was impressed at the many improvements made to The Louvre. Namely, the direct access to the Museum from Metro station that made it possible for us to avoid the rain that had begun to pour down Paris. After a quick visit to the most fragrant loo I've ever been in, we were ready to begin our artistic tour inside the museum. I can't recall how long we were in there but I can still feel the pain from so much walking in my tired old legs! Ouch! Ouch!
The girls were driven by their enthusiasm to see Mona Lisa with their own eyes. JC had a jolly time snapping photos like a professional papparazzi! Meanwhile, Jasmene and I were contented to just sit on the comfy seats provided. It took all of my will power not to just curl up and sleep! Mon dieu! Old age creeping up on me! JC jokingly chided me for my lack of energy, saying, "Mama! How could you sit down?! I never stopped walking, you know?" To which I replied, albeit snappishly,"When I was your age, I did it all! Even more than what you're doing now!" And then she asked,"What happened?" I simply replied,"I'm not 18 anymore."
By the time we were done with the Louvre Museum, I was ready to collapse! But we had one more stop to make and after negotiating the time of day as well as the weather, we decided to give Champs Elysees a miss and opted for the nearest Chanel boutique for JC to purchase a Chanel product in its country of origin. Rue Cambon is where the original Chanel store is located. However, given the fact that I wasn't sure how far that road is from the Champs Elysees, I suggested the next best option: Galarie Lafayette. I was well aware how close this shopping mall is to Champs Elysees. But the rain just made it a lot easier for us to go for the easiest choice. Plus, we were already running on empty. We were tired, cold and hungry...again!
I really hate shopping malls. Especially crowded ones! And Galarie Lafayette was crowded to the ceiling! It wasn't long before we managed to locate the Chanel boutique in the X'mas shopping madness. Sheesh! But, seeing my girls smiling from ear to ear was enough for me to feel happy for them and forget how bone tired I was.
Lissa really wanted to skate at the ice rink she saw near the Tower of London but we negotiated with her that ice skating in Paris would be more fun for her. But unfortunately for her, the rain made that possibility an impossible one. So, after Galarie Lafayette, we made our way back to Gare du Nord and plonked our aching bodies on the dining chairs in one of the corner restaurants near our hotel. We chose to sit outside to savor our last night in Paris while enjoying some pasta, french onion soup and escargot. Yup! Those delicious gastropods surprised even Jasmene and the girls! They were delighted to discover how tasty these snails are! Yes! I'm just pleased I managed to coax them to give it a try. The girls even considered second helpings but decided otherwise after they have had their fill of pastas and soups with buttered baguettes.
Overall, our Swansea-London-Paris stays have been a remarkable one. We thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. Was it perfect? No. There were some nasty moments we would rather forget. But then again, what makes our trip so memorable is a combination of the pretty and the ugly.This trip gave us an opportunity to work as a team and spend real quality time together. We were tested to the max! We found both strength and weakness on this trip, the places we visited and of us as a family. C'est la vie. That is life. Life is not perfect. In the imperfection we found character. Mainly, our own.
And today, as I find myself cooking in the comfort of my own tiny kitchen, spooning some sambal ikan bilis into my plate of piping hot nasi lemak, I am grateful I am finally enjoying my own cooking and able to walk around my condo in the skimpiest of clothes. Que sera sera.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The manic frenzy began a few days ago when our fervent wish for a white winter in the UK had been fulfilled by a scenic snowy sight outside our window during our stay in The Glevdon on Oystermouth Road, Swansea. Apparently, about 15 years had passed since the last time it snowed in this neck of the British Isles. The snow was so thick that it rendered the public transportation to a quiet halt! Even Ann, my dear Welsh mom, couldn’t get her car out and down the Townhill to see me off as we left Swansea yesterday afternoon.
Arriving late afternoon in Paddington Station, we were greeted with more snow and our chances of getting a train to Paris on the next day looked bleak. The weather forecast confirmed our worst fears. All flights and trains had been cancelled. Many travelers were stranded at Heathrow and all train stations.
After an early breakfast at The London Guards Hotel in Lancaster Gate, we took our chances, packed our bags and headed to Victoria station. Upon reaching there, we found a long snaking queue leading up to the ticket counter. Our hearts fell to our stomachs. However, as from the beginning of our travels, we were fortunate enough to have met some of the nicest and most helpful people in the world who, not only assisted us through with our travel challenges but also did it with warm hearts and sincere smiles.
The lady at the ticketing counter informed us that all buses from London to Paris were sold out. However, she was quick to point out to us that the best option we have was to take a coach to Dover and try our luck at getting a ferry across the English Channel and catching a train from Lille to Paris. We decided to go along with her suggestion and bought a coach ticket to Dover. The bus ride was smooth and pleasant. It also gave us an opportunity to nap a while before reaching our destination.
The White Cliffs of Dover greeted us like a warm host, as we neared the ferry port. We quickly fell into the long line of people who were queuing up for ferry tickets. Meanwhile, we befriended some sturdy Bobbies who were on duty at the port. They were sweet enough to make sure we boarded the shuttle bus without having to go the end of the very, very long queue line.
The outside temperature was steadily dropping to a sub zero level. The wind, snow and rain did not help either. We were very grateful and let out a sigh of relief when we boarded the well heated ferry. As we crossed the English Channel, the green coloured decks slowly turned white from the falling snow.
When we arrived in Calais, we were slapped by the horridly cold wind, as we disembarked from the ferry. And then it began to rain. There were no buses. No taxis. Luckily enough, we met some more nice people there who were also on the same ferry and faced the same challenges: a Bulgarian man named Orlin and two French boys from Bordeaux named Vincent and Thiboult. They helped us find a private car owner who could drive us to the nearby hotel before taking them to Lille train station for their next transfer.
By the time we walked in through the hotel door, almost 4 hours had passed since we arrived in Calais. And although our bed looked somewhat broken, by the shape of it, my mind conjured up several sordid explanations as to how that bed could end up looking like it did, I was deeply thankful to be able to climb into a warm bed and fell asleep like a baby.
I awakened at 8am, feeling rested and ready for another day of travelling adventure. Breakfast consists of two cups of café au lait and tons of delicious croissants with salted butter. My ideal morning spread. Fed to the max, we braved the chilling weather and walked most of the way to the train station with our heavy luggage in tow. Thank heavens for casters! And then the free shuttle bus drove us for the remainder of the way.
The Calais train station was relatively quiet, considering yesterday’s fracas. We calmly lined up to buy our train tickets and pretty soon we were set to embark on our French journey. Our first stop was Lille Flanders and we had to walk to Lille Europe train station to catch our connecting train to Paris. Lugging heavy luggage through the traffic and cold weather was not easy. But the moment we arrived in Paris and checked into a hotel near Gare du Nord’s train station, we felt an overwhelming sense of relief that we managed to survive through such an ordeal just to get to our destination despite all the challenges we faced. And having a nice dinner at the Ma Maison around the corner of the hotel was a nice closing to an adventurous day.
Now, its time for me to hit the sack because tomorrow promises a fun filled day of Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral and Champs Elysees before we head back to Malaysia… our true home.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I've always regarded Swansea as my home ever since I was sent there to do my A-Levels back in 1985. That was where I discovered who I am as a person. So, its only natural that I feel compelled to bring my two teenage daughters there and share that part of my development with them. When this rare opportunity came up, I simply jumped at the chance at walking down memory lane with them in tow.
As I'm composing this entry, I am seated on the floor of the nice and cosy Bed & Breakfast on Oystermouth Road, facing the Swansea Bay. I've been back here about 16 years ago and now I'm here again for a conference. Waking up this morning and being greeted with snow covered Swansea was such a wonderful surprise. We never had this heavy snow when I was studying here back then.
Walking down the memory lane with my girls meant walking around Tycoch College and The Quadrant. Ann, my welsh mom, couldn't get to us this morning because her car was snowed in and the roads down hill are far too slippery for her to drive down and take us to the Mumbles.
So much has changed in Swansea. As Ann puts it, Swansea has gone crazy! Although The Quadrant is still there as the main shopping mall in this small town, many other developments and progress are hard to ignore. There never was much drug addict problems in Swansea. Now, there's not only just the druggies but also the homeless. So much for the economic downturn.
I am seriously considering doing my Ph.D here and making this wonderful heaven on earth my home again, at least for 2 or 5 years. Whether this remains a dream or becomes my reality, is yet to be seen. But the main reason why I just love this place is for one reason only, which is this: Swansea makes me feel I'm at home. My troubles seem so far away when I am here. The warmth of the people here radiates through my skin and into my heart, where it glows and grows into love.
I love Swansea!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Father Time has pulled a fast one on me again. In a blink, I find myself staring at the dawn of a new beginning. Awwal Muharram marks the closing of an old book and the beginning of a new chapter. I'm just utterly grateful for being alive after all that has happened.
After talking to a client tonight, I can't help but realize how important it is for everyone to be given a chance to start anew. No one should be defined by whatever mistakes they may have made in the past. If anything, the best lessons in life are the ones gleaned through the many opportunities found in challenging moments.
I feel blessed to have been given the chance to learn from my past and walk forward with more confidence and maturity. Gone are my naive and idealistic views surrounding love, relationships and life. What's left is more real than anything I've ever known. Some people may not know or understand the reasons behind the things I have said and done. Honestly, their understanding, or lack of it, is irrelevant. The point is, I get it!
In life, we sometimes find ourselves in a spot where we would stop and ask ourselves how the hell did we get into such deep shit holes. At times, we fail to even justify our choices, mentally. Obviously, these are the moments when its pretty overt that our emotions drove us to indulge in rash and irrational behaviors. But the moment logic lands and we are able to think things through, we are presented with the rare chance at stopping ourselves dead in the track and re-evaluate our route. Sometimes, short cuts help us beat the gnarling traffic. But, sometimes the scenic route is the best way to go. After all, life is not about arriving at the destination. Most of the joy stems from the journey. All we need to do is to remember to breathe and not fret the small stuff.
Along the way, unneeded luggage gets shed off and we learn to travel light, bringing with ourselves the bare essentials that we can't live without. With only a pair of hands, we can't afford to cling on to things that will stunt our growth and development.
At the threshold of Awwal Muharram, I feel empowered by this chance Allah has presented to me as a mean to start again. Not only am I excited with this opportunity, but also relieved that I am able to walk away from the ugly and keep the beautiful. I know that my most recent prayer at Masjid Maqbul has been answered by Allah. An orphan boy also prayed for my utter wellbeing with his palms facing skyward as his lips articulately submitted a fervent prayer on my behalf. The prayer of the innocent flies directly to Allah. Ameen!
With my soulmate by my side, I feel stronger than ever, as I walk on to my next stage of life. I don't know how much time I have left. What matters is that I live my life happily, satisfactorily, and usefully. I've got my Ray Ban aviators on as I walk into the bright light of life and love. Yup. I need the shades because my future is blindingly bright and rosy. Que sera, sera.
Friday, November 12, 2010
An oxymoron, I know. But it describes my marriage precisely.
Earlier today, I was sharing a little anecdote with a client of mine. My intention for this small self-disclosure was to show how deeply I empathize with her feelings regarding her marital challenges. She utterly surprised to find that even as a marriage counselor, I am not immune to emotional struggles and mental obstacles that sometimes plague the best of marriages. I went on to explain to her that no matter how good I may be at my work, I am still a human being, a woman at that, and therefore I cope with these issues as best I possibly can. Her eyes widened with realization that no one who ever finds themselves in a relationship with a loved significant other, will be able to avoid such issues and challenges.
A few years ago, I had called it quits many times. I am the first to admit that this may be due to my emotional as well as my mental state of mind at that time. I suffer from occasional anxiety attacks which renders me paralyzed by my worst fears whizzing around my mind like a bloody F1 race! In my weakest hours, I had surrendered to defeat and put up the white flag to end it all. In the dark abyss, I saw no hope. I felt I couldn't take another step further. I was tired. I felt beaten.
I am far from perfect. Same goes for my husband and my marriage. Its not always a bed of roses. This is real life. Not fiction. Longevity of a marriage relies upon the stamina of both parties to withstand frustrations and the constant struggles between doing what's right and wanting to be free of stress and onus of responsibilities.
Knowing fully well of my own shortcomings, I strife hard to do the best I can with whatever I have. I give it my all until there's nothing left. And then I walk away to rest and recharge. After strength has been regained, I come back and keep on fighting for what I believe is right and true.
In that process, there has been times when I almost couldn't find my way home. There were also times when I felt like I didn't want to go home. I even had entertained the idea of finding a new home. The worst crunch came last December when I asked to be set free. Little did I expect the outcome to be such a positive one!
Almost immediately, rights and responsibilities implied upon each other by marital law fell to the floor like tiny dust particles. My husband and I began looking at each other in a different light. We had no more expectations of each other. We claimed no rights over one another. We got along fantastically well, despite the fact that we were just bidding time until the end was to arrive. And somehow, along the way, we fell in love with each other again.
A few days ago, my husband and I decided that we are going to keep our marriage together. Most of the big obstacles that stood in our way has already been removed by the grace of Allah. The rest is very doable for us to achieve. Blessed. Yes, I believe we are.
So here we are now. Very much in love with each other. We feel like a couple of newly weds! As much as our daughters roll their eyes each time they catch us being crazily in love with each other, we know they are indeed very relieved that all the drama is over.
Both my husband and I are still as flawed as we were before. Same goes for our marriage. What has changed is that we've learnt that we are worth the struggle to keep us together. We no longer have unrealistic expectations of each other. We see each other as who and what we are. No more denials. No more lies. Only renewed resolutions that no matter what, we are here to stay together. Dreams do come true. But only after making some mis-takes, wrong turns, U-turns, detours, and getting your bearings right. There is no shame is erring. But there is honor in forgiving.
There's roughly about 6 weeks to go till the end of 2010. But the joy and happiness in my marriage and family has regained its momentum. Looking ahead, I can't help but feel excited and optimistic. Perfectly imperfect. Imperfectly perfect. Take it any which way you want. The point is we are still together. That MUST account for something... right? Give it a go. See for yourself. You'll see what I mean.
C'est la vie!
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Hahahaha... In pursuit of happiness? Was I even looking for it? I don't think so. But, I will let you read this entry and draw your own opinion on this. Here goes...
My day today began almost as ordinary as yesterday. Having had the blissful sleep that ensued right after finishing 2012 with my family at the wee hours of the morning, I woke up wide eyed at 11 am feeling freshly rested. Although, I did make a mental note to get myself a new pillow for my head. Hmm...
I headed straight for the kitchen to brew myself a mug of coffee. As I religiously took my vitamin supplements and gulped them down with a few swigs of caffeine, I made a beeline for my Macbook and sat down to read some emails. After several incoming and outgoing phone calls, I managed to confirm a few appointments for the day. By 3 pm, I was already out the door with Jazelia in tow, as she was working the closing shift at Starbucks and conveniently I had made arrangements to hold my meetings there, too.
My first meeting was at 4 pm and when it ended 90 minutes after that, I decided to continue doing some research work on my laptop before having an early dinner before my next appointment begins. However, something had happened that caused my client to postpone her meeting with me. And since Jazelia's shift ends after midnight, that meant I had time to burn. Cool!
I decided to amble leisurely around 1 Utama shopping mall and it pleased me tremendously when I stumbled upon some bedding products. Pillow! I need a new pillow for my head! I found one that met my personal needs. Lavender pillow. Cool! I can sleep more soundly than last night!
With my new pillow tucked in a huge shopping bag, I went on walking. And somehow, my feet found their way to MPH bookstore. I walked slowly as I allowed my eyes to feast on the array of books and magazines displayed all around me. My heaven on earth! I purchased two psychology magazines and paid for them. I then remembered I must search for some travel books I may need in the future. And then suddenly I realized something weird. I had a huge grin on my face! I was smiling from ear to ear! I felt a buzz. Is this a result of retail therapy?
I called my husband and told him what was happening to me. I heard my own voice as I spoke to him. I was giggling like a young girl! Oh my God!! I was actually experiencing blissful joy! Bless my humbled soul, I have found my way back to happiness! I was beaming as I heard my husband's voice laughing away on the other end of the phone line. He was genuinely happy and proud that I had regain the old me that had been lost over the past 3 years!
Best of all, I'm so grateful to have regained my bliss after so long. I may have gotten lost over the past few years but I'm glad I'm found again. Alhamdulillah. I truly believe Allah has forgiven me for my sins and transgressions. He has accepted my repentance. I'm finally home.
When the movie 2012 came out in the cinemas, I was very reluctant to go watch it. Partly due to me not wanting to entertain my morbidity, but mostly because of my faith that disallows me to believe in any prophecies of mere mortals. However, this movie somehow made its way into my life via Astro.
As much as I dreaded seeing what the movie had to suggest regarding the future of mankind, I reluctantly coaxed my family into watching it with me. I know this does not make sense but somehow having them there next to me made it a little less daunting.
Seeing how the characters in the movie faced their last moments alive and the way they handled themselves in the most critical seconds of their lives made me ponder upon several things. Love. Priorities. Sacrifices. It also made me look at my life over the past three years.
In a nutshell, this movie was the perfect wake up call that I needed in order to reevaluate my life and regain the happiness that had slipped through my fingers due to unforeseen circumstances and bad critical decision making.
After the movie ended, I dared myself to entertain my own mortality. If I had to choose who I would sacrifice my life for, the answer is very simple. My children. Jazelia and Jelissa. Yes. I would put my life on the line just so that they can live on.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I would like to share some wisdom with you, things that I have learnt in the past 30 years. I wish I can go back in time and done certain things differently. There are some regrets and mistakes, without which I would not have learnt what I am about to share with you.
Forgive those who made and broke promises with you. Their ill-chosen behavior is in no way reflective of your true value and worth. Idealistic as you may be with regards to those you love, they are nothing but flawed human beings. To expect more of them would only invite disappointment and pain. I am not asking you to refrain from trusting anyone. I merely ask that you see them as who they are and not how you want them to be.
Puan Aminah, your Primary 4 teacher was wrong to call you 'Stupid.' You are intelligent and bright minded. You will go far in life and education. She mistook your playfulness and forgetfulness as stupidity. Apparently, she had a limited English vocabulary. Yes, she may have been your teacher. But teachers do not know everything. No one does. Even experts are only knowledgable in their own field of expertise.
Sit up straight and avoid slouching. Its not only bad for your posture but also your overall appearance. Be brave to speak your mind and embrace stepping out of your comfort zone. Mistakes are the best way to learn well.
Many of your friends will come and go, but some will be around for a major part of your future. Stay good at keeping secrets others have shared with you in strict confidence. As interesting as your internal dialogues are in your head, once in a while do step out of it and listen to others with curiosity and unconditional acceptance. All this will prove to be positive habits that will assist you in your future career.
Be more worldly and less naive. Not everyone will love you the way you love them. Each has different definitions for common words. Many say something but mean something else. Guard yourself from feeling upset or let down by this. Make integrity and self-honesty as non-negotiable values of your life.
Learn to be more flexible of others. Just because you think you know the best way for doing something does not make it right and suitable for others. Its alright to have differences. Embrace the diversity of wisdom and points of view. Two heads are better than one. The more the merrier. However, do your level best not to be easily influenced by the opinion of others. Be courageous in forming your own. There are people who will be interested to know how you think. Because your opinion matters.
Leave past traumas behind. Your past does not define who you are, no matter how much subconscious influence they may have on your current behavior. You can choose better when your head and heart are clearer. Take your time to sort them out. Its easy to confuse your emotions with your thoughts.
You will lose people you love through life and death. There will be times when you will have to force yourself to walk away from something that makes you happy and feel beautiful. This will not be easy to do. But sometimes when life makes us do something out of lack of choice, we must learn to understand that is life's way of telling us to move on along. At the end of a rain storm you'll find a rainbow arching above you as the sun shines through the drops of water. Blink your tears away so you will see more clearly. Let go of whatever that burdens your heart. You need to travel light. There is no sense in lugging unnecessary baggage.
Not everyone will love and care for you. Not everyone who cares for you will love you. Not everyone who loves you will care for you. Beware of confusing the two. Caring does not mean love. Sometimes, caring comes alone. Guard your heart against these childish expectations. Your heart will be spared of pain.
You will meet the love of your life. He will possess all the criteria you need in a man, husband and father to your children. He will struggle to help you gain confidence and assurance. He will assist you in fulfilling your truest potential. He is a rare find. He is waiting to find you. And he will. You'll be utterly happy with this man in your life. But you will have to learn to love selflessly too, after all he will do for you.
You will have two beautiful daughters who will make your heart swell with pride. Love them like you've never been loved before. Give them whatever you never got while you were a child. They will be your best investment and asset throughout your life. Look forward to being a good mother to them. You will be their everything until they grow up. Then, you will also have to let them go.
In short, what I am trying to say is this: Live. Love. Let go. These words are easy to remember but hard to do without experiencing some level of pain. Hard. Yes. But not impossible. Just do your best. Your utmost best. Leave no room for regrets. Life may be challenging but its never dull. And in its excitement, you will find your true strengths and flair. You are unique and avant garde. You are as colourful as a peacock. There's no way you can pretend to be simple turkey. Embrace your originality. Make no apology for who you are. People who matter to you will be proud of you. As for others, their opinions are as insignificant as they are.
Remember: Live. Love. Let go. You will be magnificently fine. Trust me. I am.
Lots of love,
45 year old Ana.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Recently, someone whom I have known for more than 2 decades had hidden something from me and in that process, he lied. Almost immediately, I just could not look into his eyes anymore, for fear of seeing more untruths. I made a mistake. A very grave one. I thought that just because I have known him for so long, that he would not lie to me.
Obviously, this incident had rendered my spirit destroyed. I was upset because not only that he had lied, but also that I can't believe him anymore. In general, I am a trustworthy person. However, I don't trust others easily. A person who succeeds in earning my trust undergoes several tests without them knowing it. In my own personal past, trust only ends with betrayal. A lie is a breach of trust.
I had been feeling very impoverished as far as having trustworthy friends are concerned after the passing of my soul brother, Mad. When he died, I felt I had one less person in whom I can trust my life with. He never lied. He never kept secrets from me. He was always forthright in all communications with me. He was as honest as Honest Abe. So, its only imaginable how inconsolable I was after the latest betrayal.
I admit that I am naive and that is my shortcoming. I believe that honesty is a two way street. You give it, you will receive it in return. Why am I so naive? How stupid of me! I prayed to Allah for someone I can trust and not be afraid of betrayal anymore. And He answered by me receiving a text message from a very old friend that I had been in constant contact over the 33 years span of our friendship. We met up tonight and after dinner, we had a very long chat over coffee and smokes.
We exchanged stories and updates. We laughed at old and new jokes. He told me how he has always kept a tab on my well being through internet social platforms. When the things I write about were depressing, he would worry and pray to make sure I will be okay. And when my writings get hopeful, he would let out a sigh of relief and be happy that I am fine.
But throughout tonight, what was most evident was how rich I felt in his presence. To have someone I trust to talk to. Although we may have known each other since we were 12 years old, I never really had the chance to sit and chat the way we did tonight. What a wonderful revelation to discover that we have so much in common and plenty to talk about. I didn't feel the need to explain myself to him. He was there throughout the traumatic years of my childhood. I asked him if he had bothered to search for me during our times apart. His reply was No. He said, "Why do I need to search for you when I know where you are, who you are and what you are? Anything that's written about you are lies if they are not similar to what I know of you. And I know you very well." We grew up together, didn't we? Thirty three years of friendship is a huge fraction of our age of 45.
I know I could trust him to tell me what I needed to hear. He would tell me things as they are. He told me he knows I struggle with letting things go. He also told me that I must not let this cruel world hurt me continuously. If someone doesn't understand me, he said to say, "I don't give a fuck!" In fact, he recommended I maintain that attitude with any ugly event or people that happens in my life from now on. I will embrace this attitude because I need to love and protect myself from hurt and pain inflicted on me by others.
At the end of the evening, as he drove me home, he told me how glad he was that we had that chance to chat and catch up. Due to our circumstances and work routines, our paths hardly ever crosses. But distance does not matter. Mad taught me that. Every so often, Mad used to call me from Penang just to tell me how grateful he was for our long time friendship. "We've been friends for so long, Ana..." Those were his words that keeps echoing in my head long after he has gone. Precious words that rang true tonight.
Gary, thank you so much for being there for me when I needed someone to trust. You made me feel so rich by your loving friendship and loyalty. I trust you. I trust you because you never had a bad thought or negative opinion of me. Thank you for showing me how much you care. Thank you for the affirmations that I never expected to receive tonight. Thank you for being proud of me. Thank you for having confidence in my capabilities. Thank you for listening. And best of all, thank you for your honesty. I know for sure you've always been honest with me because you know how much that means to me. I'm just grateful I don't have to explain anything to you and you would understand already.
"No soul is desolate as long as there is a human being for whom it can feel trust and reverence." - T.S. Eliot
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Its almost 5 a.m. and my mind is running amok with trillions of thoughts crisscrossing all at once. Well, this comes as no surprise, considering my last entry: to focus more on my thoughts rather than my emotions. I guess this is the residual consequence of that bright idea.
I miss being in Penang. The solitude and tranquility of mind that island gives to me each time I cross that bridge and smell the sea breeze. Somehow, the atmosphere there encourages me to just relax and let go of things that are beyond my control. To just focus on and enjoy the here and now. Whilst everyone here is snoring away in the mindless slumber, I'm besieged by anxieties again. Each time this happens, I know that the fastest and easiest remedy is to blog. As a promise to myself, I shall begin each statement with a thought.
I think I am losing my battle in maintaining the will power to break a habit that no longer makes me happy.
I think I am ready to let go of things and people who no longer make me a priority in their lives.
I think about all the blessings Allah has bestowed upon me throughout my living years and am forever grateful for all the positives and negatives of me and my life.
I think I have evolved into someone I have yet to get acquainted with.
I think this condo needs a good spring cleaning but I'm just too fed up to even bother.
I think Medjai the kitten is a prime example that animals are more capable of giving unconditional love and acceptance than any man can ever give, even at his best.
I think about the future of my daughters and need to work harder at making sure they have better choices than I ever had in my own life.
I think that loneliness is the main cause for unhappiness and depression.
I think my anxieties stem from my need to keep the peace and hold my tongue when the urge to speak my mind chokes my throat.
I know that nothing stays the same, myself included. I have been trying hard to adjust the new me to my surroundings and this has proven to be most strenuous of all. I believe that respect is more than just doffing your hat, saluting a higher ranking officer or honoring the elders. Respect is not about being polite. Respect is about accepting and respecting others in all sense of the word. Respect is about not exerting your believes and principles on others. Respect is about accepting the differences that distinguishes one person from the other even when the understanding of it still eludes you.
I believe I am coping as best I can with the situation I've been given. I believe in fighting for what is right and true for myself without compromising the values others hold worthy to maintain. I understand that I can't have my way all the time. I understand that my problems and challenges are colossal in size only because they are mine and not someone else's. Therefore, I believe I need to keep on breathing and let go of things beyond my control. I believe Allah knows what He's doing and isn't cruel. I have faith that He is allowing things to happen for reasons beyond my comprehension. I believe He will grant me the strength, wisdom and will power to overcome my challenges when I am good and ready, and not any sooner than that.
So, for now, I need to prepare myself to be ready when the opportunity arises for me to triumph over my obstacles.
Al-Quran Surah 94: Ayat 1-8.
In the name of Allah Most Loving, Most Merciful.
(Muhammad), have We not comforted your heart, relieved you of the burden which had been a heavy weight upon your back and granted you an exalted reputation? After every difficulty there is relief. Certainly, after every difficulty there comes relief. When you are free from (your obligations), strive hard (to worship God) and be devoted to your Lord's service.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Earlier today, someone told me how she believed me to be a confident woman from a blog entry I made about a year ago on the premature passing of the King of Pop. Her statement tweaked my curiosity to revisit that entry and reread it. I failed to see how she managed to come to her conclusion regarding my level of confidence.
As I browsed the various entries made last year, I came across the one and only entry I made in the month of July entitled "Pausing for Benjamin Button." I must admit Brad Pitt's gorgeous face adorning the cover of that DVD was as pleasant as a huge cup of frozen yogurt topped with chocolate syrup and multi-colored sprinkles! My eyes began to wonder off to my writings beneath it. At the end of reading it, I let out a huge sigh. My heart felt an unexplainable ache.
I feel tears prickling through, welling up and brimming over my eyes as I type this line. Why am I feeling so sad? Is it because of the memory of what I was going through back then? Or is it because I feel that I am stuck in the same place even after a year has passed? I have failed to let go of things that brought me pain. I have failed to let go of things that are no longer holding me back. Why is this so? Why am I holding on to pain and misery? Why can't I just walk away from all this heartache and venture out into the world that promises a more fulfilling prospect for happiness and stability?
A few weeks ago, my facebook status update said: Old habits are hard to break. I wasn't just referring to behavioral habits but more of the emotional kind. No matter how intelligent a person may be in knowing what is good and healthy for them, the heart will feel what it does for as long as it will. And when its gone, its gone. But meanwhile, what options have I got to survive this bad emotional habit of mine? Having expectations of others who have a fantastic history of disappointing you. Hoping to get some attention from people who are too in love with themselves. The need to save and rescue someone who seem to enjoy being in the doldrums they are in. What kind of emotional disorder is this? An obsession is mostly associated with the mind. The heart knows no obsession. It just knows emotions. I know I need to let go. But I don't know how.
Someone once said that it takes a special person to help you forget someone special. I hope that someone is right. Because I can't continue like this without ending up with a broken heart. So for the time being, the best I can do is to push the PAUSE button. Take a break from feeling. Just stick to thinking. Keep everything on a cognitive level. That way, I will be able to stay sane and not go crazy when my heart gets broken yet again. In the meantime, I pray for some kind words to soothe my agonizing soul.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
No matter what happens to Dragons, they can usually handle it. You were born with a superior emergency gene. Houses catch fire and you leap to extinguish the flames. A child wanders in front of a car, you race out and grab the kid away from harm. You are also lucky. Most everything that goes wrong eventually gets put to rights.
Your weakness? Sentimentality. You cry at the drop of a petal from a rose. This July you will be pitched into a pit of feeling more intense than you have experienced in a long long time. Last month you fell in love. We weren't certain it would last. Your attachment to this person was intense. You felt all over good. But that great feeling also made you feel vulnerable and Dragons hate to feel vulnerable.
Around July 17th, for some unknown reason, the person in question will begin acting strangely aloof. You are not sure why and can't really pinpoint when the odd behavior began. You fear that if you bring it up to him or her they may bolt or voice recriminations regarding something you did. My hunch? The person you fell for is already spoken for. When you met they might have been going through a separation or a brief estrangement from their mate. But now they find themselves caught between the two of you. My advice? Take your distance.
Make clear you will wait a certain length of time for them to come back. If in a month, they have not made up their mind, then you will consider them lost to you. This will be difficult. Dragons hate defeat. But if they are to leave you, better it be done with dignity and managed by yourself.
Money becomes an issue for you after the 20th of July. You may suddenly be confronted with a bill or your car or fridge, TV or computer will give up the ghost and you will want to get a new one. If you are wise, you won't go buying something new on credit. Either get the damn thing fixed or go without till you have the money to buy new.
Children are somehow involved in your month of July, they might be your own kids. But I have a suspicion they are someone else's. Perhaps you are teaching them a skill or taking someone's kids for the weekend. Enjoy!
- by Suzanne White
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I was blitzing away on Facebook while listening to the TV. A rerun of Sex And The City was on. I couldn't help giggling at some of the things that were said by Carrie Bradshaw character. Once in a while, some pearls of wisdom plops out of her mouth and I find myself thinking about it from my perspective, considering my current circumstances. Which led me to this thought:
"When People Show You Who They Are, Believe Them!"
The painful lesson I had to learn at a ripe old age of 45 is very hard to swallow. I see myself as a person who prefers to see the good in people rather than have a negative pre-conceived idea of who they are. Even when they have failed or disappointed me countless times, I still find myself being hopeful that one day they will change for the better on their own. Because Oprah said, "When you know better, you will do better." But then again, Dr. Phil said, "We teach people how to treat us. They will keep on doing something for as long as it works. When it doesn't work anymore, then only they will adapt to find another way to get things to go the way they want it to." This means, truly, that people don't really change. The core of who they are never changes. The changes you see is merely their attempts at adapting to new stimuli and circumstances.
It saddens me to be proven wrong in my unconditional positive regard when it comes to people who matter in my life. I mean, how many times do I have to communicate to them my emotional boundaries? How many times do I have to keep explaining myself why certain things are non-negotiable and no amount of quid pro quo will make me accept their misconduct or misbehavior?
Another famous saying is Action Speaks Louder Than Words. Ok. Fine. Then, show me your actions. Act accordingly. But in their absence, how am I to get any form of affirmations if not through words? And then, things just crescendo to the peak of where they just contradict themselves silly!
This leaves me feeling untrusting and bitter. And I hate this. Because I am not like this by nature. But maybe it is my fault after all. Because they DID show me their true selves but I stubbornly believed that they will progress and evolve into better beings.
Watching Sex And The City tonight made me realize that the reason why women understand themselves better is because we actively involve ourselves in discussions about us and everything pertaining to our gender: challenges, time management, job and role juggling, hormones, friendship, fashion, love and matters of the heart. Who benefits from shows like SATC? Men. They watch a few episodes of this series and its enough for them to understand the psyche of the female gender, as complex and complicated as we may seem. But what about them? How do we understand the mental works of the male gender? By observation? By trial and error? By sharing experiences with fellow girlfriends? By experimenting? By putting them to the test? Because at the end of the day, all women want from their men is reliability, stability and security, in all sense of the word. Or maybe women ought to list their needs in bullet point format. Even that won't guarantee they are able to put aside their macho egos and follow simple instructions... Go figure!
Anyway, just for fun (or lack of it), you may humor yourself by reading the below:
The Differences Between Men and Women by Thomas Bätzler.
Have a good laugh! Salute to the rest of our week. And may God save us all... Sigh...!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
When the servant (of the Lord) is tested with a trial, his first impulse is to cope with it in and by himself. If his own efforts get him nowhere he looks for help from other human beings, such as people in power, important officials, men of influence and means, or medical experts where diseases and physical ailments are involved. If he still obtains no relief, he then resorts to his Lord through prayers of supplication, humble entreaty and offering of praise.
As long as he finds it possible to manage on his own, he will not turn to other people, and while human help is available he will not turn to the Creator.
(Having finally applied to Him), only to find no help forthcoming from the Creator, he throws himself down in His presence, incessantly begging, pleading, entreating, offering praise and submitting his needs in fear and hope. But the Creator (Almighty and Glorious is He) now renders him incapable of supplication, and ignores him until he has reached the end of his tether. Only then does he experience the effect of the Lord's decree and the action of His work, and so this servant passes beyond material needs and behavior, to survive as spirit alone.
Since he now sees nothing but the Truth (al-Haqq) in action, he becomes, of necessity, a totally convinced believer in the divine Unity (muwahhid), affirming that in reality there is no agent but Allah, no dynamic or static force apart from Allah, and no good or evil, no loss or gain, no giving or withholding, no opening or closing, no death or life, no honor or disgrace except in the hand of Allah. His status comes to resemble that of a suckling babe in its nurse's arms, of a corpse in the hands of a washer of the dead, or of a ball on the receiving end of a polo-player's mallet - rolled and spun and knocked around, though inert in itself and imparting no motion to other bodies.
Gone forth from his own self, out into his Master's work, he now sees nothing but that Master and His work, and neither hears nor comprehends from any other source. If he perceives at all, if he does hear and learn, His speech is what he listens to, and His knowledge is what he comes to know. His favor he enjoys, through His nearness he prospers, through His proximity he is graced and honored, by His promise he is pleased and reassured. With Him he feels at peace, and in His discourse he takes delight, while from all others he recoils and shrinks away. In remembrance of Him he finds refuge and support. In Him, the Almighty and Glorious, he puts his faith and in Him he places his trust. By the light of His awareness he is guided, as wraps and clothes himself therein. Strange marvels of His science he discovers, and of the secrets of His power he is apprised. To Him he listens and from Him he learns, then for all this he offers praise, gives thanks, and turns to prayer.
Source: Revelations of the Unseen by Shaikh 'Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
God works in mysterious ways. Things may look good outwardly, but there may be evil contained inside. Let no one be deluded by pride that he himself has conceived good ideas or done good deeds. If everything were as it seemed, the Prophet would not have cried out with such illuminated and illuminating perspicacity, "Show me things as they are! You make things appear beautiful when in reality they are ugly; You make things appear ugly when in reality they are beautiful. Show us therefore each thing as it is lest we fall into a snare and be ever errant." Now you judgment, however good and clear it may be, is not better than his, and he spoke as he did. Don't relay on your every thought and opinion, but humble yourself before God and fear Him.
Anyone who is loved is beautiful. The reverse, however is not necessarily true. It does not follow that all beauties are loved. Beauty is part of being loved: being loved is primary, so when that quality is present, beauty follows necessarily. A part of a thing cannot be separated from the whole. The part must pertain to the whole. During Majnun's time there were girls much more beautiful than Layla, but they were not loved by him. When told, "There are girls more beautiful than Layla. Let us show them to you," he would always reply, "I do not love Layla for her external form. She is of external form; she is like a goblet which I hold and from I drink wine. I am in love with the wine I drink therefrom. You see only the goblet and are not aware of the wine. Or what use would a golden goblet be to me if it were filled with vinegar or something other than wine? For me a broken old gourd filled with wine would be better than a hundred such goblets." One needs love and yearning to distinguish the wine from the cup.
-Taken from Signs of the Unseen: Discourses of Jalaluddin Rumi
Monday, May 24, 2010
As I type this opening line, I let out a huge sigh of relief laced with gratitude for surviving the tremendous ordeal I had been through over the past few years. I no longer suffer pain of any sort. I no longer have anxiety or depression which I had endured for many months prior to this blessing from Allah. I am now able to perform my prayers again without any hindrance. It is indeed a blessed privilege to be able to pray. Very few people understand the depth of my thankfulness for this.
I can feel the change in me. I am still me but no longer the same. I have been restored to who I was before, and more. I don't know how to articulate this feeling I have in words. I have been healed. I have been touched by Him and feel truly humbled by His love. I have changed. I have evolved. I have moved on. I shall live the remaining days of my life in happiness and gratitude.
To those who were there by my side during my darkest hours, I pray for Allah to bless you with the same amount of kindness and patience you have shown me. To those who had a part in being the cause of my sorrow and agony, I wish you happiness and contentment. May you find someone else to be made a the center of your universe. I feel no pity for you. My heart is no longer capable to feel anything but hatred for your behavior and actions. You will destroy yourselves by your own poison.
Dear Allah All Mighty and Most Loving, thank you for putting me through that ordeal in order for me to restore my faith. I would never wish away even a single iota of pain that had been allowed to befall me for I am so happy and contented to be where I am today. You have allowed me to hit rock bottom with such impact that has rocketed me to the height of bliss I am feeling now. I see clearly now the true colours of your creatures and the Truth of You. Alhamdulillah. Allahu Akbar.
In the end, I return to You.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Have you not heard the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) as they have come down to us in the tradition: "There will be groups of people who will surely be wishing, on the Day of Resurrection, that their flesh might be cut away with scissors, in view of the reward they see given to those who have borne misfortune."
Your neighbour will therefore come to wish he had been in your place in this world, in view of the lengthy reckoning and interrogation he must undergo, and his having to stand in the heat of the sun for fifty thousand years at the Resurrection, on account of the comfort he enjoyed in this world, while you are at a distance from all this, in the shade of the Throne, eating and drinking, enjoying yourself, cheerful, happy and relaxed, on account of your patient endurance of worldly hardships, constraints, troubles, suffering and poverty, your contentment and readiness to comply with your Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He) when His plan and decision meant poverty for you and affluence for others, sickness for you and good health for others, hardship for you and ease for others, humiliation for you and honor for others. May Allah include us, and you, among those who bear misfortune with patience, who give thanks for blessings, and who entrust their affairs to the Lord of heaven!
- from Thirty-seventh Discourse, Revelations of The Unseen by Shaikh 'Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani.