Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Last of 2016

Hello! This is the latest photo of me. Just to record how I'm aging at the end of this year. Hahahaa! Well, to be honest, I'm thinking this may just be my last blog entry for this year. My memory fails me of late, therefore writing a recap of the year would not be such a bright idea. How about I just type out whatever crosses my mind right now?

I wish to walk in a field of lavender, probably in France. I imagine staying a week in a chateau nearby where I can smell the soothing lavender in the breeze as I sit outside drinking cafe au lait while allowing sunset to do magic with the colors of nature surrounding me. Sigh... Even the thought of that relaxes me.

And just look at the sunlight interweaving between the lavender shafts! Gorgeous!

Its a week into my new one year contract with the university and I am looking forward to starting 2017 with an exciting new elective module: Crisis Intervention. I have so much planned and it feels wonderful to have the full support of head of department with regards to my plans. 

There are many who choose to have gloomy perspectives on the so-called bleak economy. But I truly believe that every crisis or conflict is, in actuality, an opportunity for growth. People who hate change or challenges are just purely lazy. And then they whine about how boring their lives are. 

I pondered upon my life so far and realized that I have never been unemployed. That is simply because I have always been (and probably always will be) self-employed. A year into this 'full time' gig has given me a clear picture as to why many people are sold into the illusion of job security and they do whatever they can to keep within their comfort zones due to their complacency.

A few months ago, my husband and I were called upon as consultants to mediate a work crisis happening in two factories that were closing down and laying off more than 200 employees in total. We prepared them with what to expect as well as help them plan out their future based on the severance packages they were receiving and the job opportunities available out there.

Most perceive employment as being hired for a full time position complete with a fixed monthly income, office, etc. Typical conventional setting. Those who are in between jobs tend to pick up driving Uber or Grabcar but they see this as something to do while they are "unemployed." When I brought to their attention the mindset of a person who drives a taxi for a living and how their commitment towards that job determines them being able to earn an honest living that is enough to support their families because THAT IS ALL THE OPTION THEY HAVE. It all boils down to attitude, perspective and commitment to the job at hand. Be careful how you look at something. It may be small, but it could be a diamond or a golden nugget. As opposed to a mountain high of trash; if you know what point I'm driving at. 

Being employable is an art many has yet to master. The moment they get employed, they tend to lose their employable-ness. They get complacent. They get lazy. They get bored. They become followers to stupid leaders because they are too afraid of losing their comforting toys and luxuries. They become slaves who complain they are treated as one when their attitude is the very thing that attracted that kind of treatment upon them. Well, enough words on things that are beyond MY control.

What plans do I have for next year? Gosh! New Year resolutions never work because they aren't important enough. So, the better question is: What are the important things I want to get done as soon as possible? Here are some:


I think I'll sign off now. See you in 2017, everyone. 

By the way, I would appreciate if those who actually read my blog entries can just leave a short note in the comment section at the bottom of this entry, just so I can now how many actually do follow my writing. Thank you in advance and may God bless us all. Ameen. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Between Your Wants and My Needs

I have discovered several new pet peeves, of late. Most annoying one is when people try to impose their life aspirations on me. I can totally respect everyone's ambitions and life goals and I'm sure they have logical reasons for having them. But please understand this: JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING IS DAMN IMPORTANT TO YOU, IT DOES NOT MEAN IT MUST BE IMPORTANT TO ME TOO!!

I have no desire whatsoever for recognition nor fame. I was born famous! I have no desire to prove anything to anyone, which includes how intelligent I am or am not. Not everyone who is wise has a doctorate degree! And yes, I aspire to be humble rather than a cocky asshole!

Another thing that people simply do not get about me is that I AM NOT CALCULATIVE!!! I refuse to ask for something in which I have to justify me deserving it! If you wanna give, GIVE! If you don't want to give, DON'T!! But I refuse to let you manipulate me by using money. That won't work anyways because I am not a slave of money. My God is ALLAH!!!

Also, I don't care for titles nor designations. My family is full of the who's whos and they are all human beings at the end of the day; who work hard, fart, sneeze, sleep, and crap! And yet NONE of them are as hung up as some stuck up assholes who ignore those who do not have Ph.Ds. Fuckshit you, lah!

My work is NOT the center of my universe! I have Allah, my husband and children, my parent, my brothers, my huge family and relatives! I have my private practice and continuous clients. YES!!! I am proud to be a private practitioner. And I would appreciate it if people would just STOP BUGGING ME ABOUT DOING Ph.D!! The more they tell me to do it, the more I will rebel. They should really read up on how to handle an Aquarian Dragon coz this Fiery Humanitarian just refuses to conform to what fuckshits think is acceptable in their small pea-sized brains of theirs!

Rant over! I'm done.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hooked on Hooking

Star Trek Beanie (for me)

I finally found a noble purpose to my crochet passion: making hats for children who are bald from chemo treatments for cancer. Here are several that I have managed to hook up so far. The top one (above this paragraph) is something I designed myself as a huge Star Trek fan. I made it for me as a reward for being so diligently productive.

Here's the usual suspects: (Top left to bottom right) One eyed Minion, Elmo, Ninja Turtle, Batman.

Topmost: Little flowered beanie for a little girl. Bottom left: A simple unisex beanie. Bottom right: Two eyed Minion with ear flaps. 

Left to right: Olaf (Frozen) and Cookie Monster (Sesame Street)

Purple Minion complete with white acrylic felt teeth.

Nemo the clownfish complete with fins and tail.

William Glasser wrote a book titled Positive Addiction many years ago and I believe this passion of mine is right up its alley. It helps to replace the bad habits I've been trying to break. Being hooked on hooking (crocheting) is definitely therapeutic and I truly pray these hats will put smiles on many little faces. Ameen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Single Motherhood

There are now three definitions for “Ibu Tunggal” (single mother) recognised by the government, said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Karim.
She said these were reached by a special taskforce committee set up to study the issue in early June this year.
“These have helped to clear any confusion and to ensure the aid meant for them really reach them and their dependents.
“As a result if formerly we have about 800,000 single mothers on our record, after the streamlining, the number has been reduced to 235,240 only,” she told a media conference after a gathering for about 200 local woman leaders from the corporate, non-governmental organisations and civil service hosted by her ministry.
According to Rohani, the first definition was that “the single mother who is the head of the family is a divorcee or separated permanently from her husband and has unmarried children staying with her.”  
“Under the second definition she is the head of the family and is married but her husband is not able to work because of his poor health condition and there are unmarried children in the family.
“Thirdly, she is the head of the family and has never been married. She has adopted children or children of unconfirmed status,” she said.
- See more at:

* * *

So, apparently I have been a single mother for a combination of many years and not realize my true status. Learning about this did something to my mind, somehow. Clarity. It explains why I think the way I do; plan ahead the way I do; all in the name of providing the best I can for my family. Survival. That's it. Responsibility.

When you have children, it calls for a lifetime commitment. Options that are available for others are not something you would consider for yourself when you are the sole breadwinner. Freedom is something you sacrifice without a bat of an eyelash. It has not been a joyride. But I look forward to reaping of the harvest.

It is walking a tightrope of balance between independence and honoring your husband. May Allah bless me with the strength to perservere and not fail His test on me. Ameen.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Masters in Counseling Sensitivity Camps Cohort 2015

About a month ago, I co-facilitated a sensitivity camp for 9 Masters in Counseling students. The location chosen by the students was Janda Baik. The goal of the camp is for students to unload and sort out their personal obstacles and issues in order for them to be effective counselors as they start their practicum module.

Dr. Anasuya and me with the students.

The recent weekend, I was entrusted with the responsibility to conduct the sensitivity camp alone for the remaining 13 students of the same cohort. This time around, the chosen location was Port Dickson. Unlike the first location in which we only had access to a stream located within driving distance from our lodging, Naam Boutique Hotel had 10 rooms with 2 kitchenettes and the beach was just across the road. I was fully aware that I had less than 24 hours to accomplish all goals of this camp. Therefore, upon arrival and check in, I immediately started the students on constructing their corkboards on which they will each tell their life stories.

I gave them until 5 pm to finish off their corkboards and then gathered them outdoors for trust building activities. We had loads of fun and laughters were abundant. After each activity, students readily shared what they learnt about themselves in experiencing the group process.

As the sun began to lower down upon the horizon, I lead the group to the beach to start on the sensory exercise and grounding. The purpose of these activities is to bring their awareness to the here and now and to be present and prepared for the group counseling marathon planned after dinner.

While the students searched for objects they can relate to that can be found in the vacinity of the beach, I took the opportunity to enjoy the sea. Most of the students enjoyed the sea too. Some students even decided to take a dip in the sea and they squealed like children as they enjoyed the cool water and the salty breeze. Just watching them was a delight for me. I love the sea. I managed to capture the beauty of it on my phone's camera. Here are some of it.

Due to confidentiality, much of what transpired during the 9.5 hours group counseling marathon could not be captured on camera. Neither am I able to write anything about that. However, just looking at the looks on the faces, I think you would agree they all have found their ways out of the dark tunnels and into the light. 

Last but not least, two students and I video-recorded this short funny jig. Why? Because this is what happens when you get Ms. Joe as your lecturer! LOL!

I feel so blessed to have had a part to play in their journeys towards becoming counselors. I sincerely hope I have been a positive influence in their lives. Insya Allah.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

This is Me: Counseling Retreat Reflection Paper

My journey in becoming a registered and licensed counselor has not been devoid of trials and challenges. When my application to do Masters in Psychology Counseling in UKM came through, I was already 41 years old. Time became more precious than ever before and I decided to focus real hard only on things that really mattered. As I struggled with what seemed to me as my flailing memory through the previous semesters, I sighed a great relief when I finished my last written exam papers. No more having to get angry at my brain that seemed to do backstroke swimming whenever I was swatting for an exam paper.

Being a part-time student served a different set of challenges with time management. Therefore, I declined to be a part of the organizing committee for the retreat preparation. I was willing to let others make the necessary decisions and arrangements, and just follow their lead. I had bigger issues to deal with, mainly the anxiety of what I know will happen during the retreat.

Having done my Post Graduate Diploma in Psychology Counseling in UKM, I could roughly gauge what to expect. Although we were not taught group counseling as a specific subject, we had a retreat too back then. As an after thought, having learned the skills and processes of group counseling from Dr. Wan Kader this semester had prepared me to understand what would be happening before, during and after the group counseling sessions.

I pushed the thought of the retreat out of my mind while preparing for my exam papers. However, as I walked out of the exam hall of my last exam paper, the anxiety of the retreat began to pick up pace. Having had two of my old friends, whom I had known since primary school, betray my trust, I found myself traumatized by those experiences. This is because I never had trouble trusting anyone before. I consider myself as someone who had the knack of knowing instinctively who I can and cannot trust. Betrayal was rare and far in between. But now, trusting others is an issue for me. I was afraid to trust again. Betrayal was too painful.

During the two weeks leading up to the retreat, I found myself tearful and tensed during the days and sleepless at nights. It’s like as if there’s an F1 racing going round and round in my head. I began to doubt myself as a counselor. How can I be a counselor if I can’t bring myself to trust anyone? I found myself experiencing an internal conflict. I dreaded the retreat but at the same time I needed help to resolve my conflicting issues. I needed this retreat. But I was still afraid. After having my trust in confidentiality breached by one of the lecturers, I prayed fervently to Allah to be assigned in Dr. Wan Kader’s counseling group. I believe that I can still trust him. I needed to believe this.

I braced myself through the bus journey bound for Ilham Resort in Port Dickson. The presence of the handful of classmates that I consider close to me gave me comfort and quiet support. They knew about my anxiety and trust issues. I allowed myself the luxury of enjoying lunch with my friends and was happy when I was assigned a like-minded roommate at the resort. During the briefing, we were told that after the tea break, there would be an outdoor activity called sensory exercise.  I felt reluctant to participate in this activity. I couldn’t understand the reason, though. I just knew that I wanted no part in it. However, after minimal coaxing from Dr. Wan Kader, I found myself slowly yielding. I took off my flip-flops, rolled up my army fatigue cargo pants to my knees, and walked down the concrete steps that led to the beach. It was 5 pm and the tide was low. The water was about 300 meters away from where we gathered as a group.

Going through the sensory exercise with Dr. Wan Kader brought a realization to me. I have been disconnected from my surroundings for far too long. I have been living in my head and had forgotten how much I love nature, especially the seaside. I felt the heat of the sun softly tingling the skin on my face. I could hear the gawking sea gulls near and far, and the crushing tide at the farthest distance. I could smell the salty air slightly polluted by smog and smoke. The feel of the beach sand on my feet brought comfort and relaxation. I felt ready to open up now.

When we were instructed to look for something with which we can relate to, it didn’t take long for me to find one. An empty little crab shell caught my eyes and touched my heart. I carefully picked it up and laid it on my palm. I slowly made my way toward Dr. Wan Kader. With his approval, I began to share with him the reasons why that object of my choice had significant meaning to me. Tears began to flow and my heart ached, mourning the death of my soul brother and lamenting over the cadaver of what was once called Trust.

After finishing my last expression, I asked Dr. Wan Kader for permission to be excused for a while. I needed to pull myself together again so I could go on with the other activities. I knew that if I were to let myself go, I would fall apart. I found solace in my Asr prayer and rejoined the group feeling refreshed and composed.

Since I had already prepared my collage prior to coming to the resort, I had time to be alone with my thoughts while my classmates huddled together to compose their story on a piece of white manila card during the collage making session. I took the golden opportunity to quietly enjoy the night sea breeze, feeling it caressing my face. My thoughts flew to what I wanted to share with my group members during the group counseling sessions scheduled the next day. I wanted to be clear as to what were the issues that I needed to resolve in order for me to be the best counselor I can be.

As midnight inched nearer, we were given leave to retire for the night. We needed to rest well because the next day will be long and tedious; physically, emotionally and psychologically. It took a good while for me to unwind and relax. It was close to 2 am before physical and mental fatigue overtook my emotions. My sleep was dreamless and sound.

I woke up feeling rested but restless. I didn’t have much of an appetite for breakfast. When everyone gathered in the hall for the announcement of group assignment, I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. My heart jumped with joy when my name was announced to be in Dr. Wan Kader’s counseling group. I felt relieved and optimistic. I was certain my inner turmoil would be put to rest. I began to look forward to starting the group counseling sessions.

When Dr. Wan Kader’s counseling group convened in the hall, I looked around at the other members of the group. I was glad to find Lokman and Gabriel there too. As for the rest of the members, I hardly knew them personally. I geared my mind to fully participate in the group processes. I wanted to learn and experience the moment.

As the first member began to tell her story, I listened intensively. I kept glancing at Dr. Wan Kader to see his style of leadership and counseling approach. I paid attention whenever he summarized a member’s story and noticed how he phrased his questions. One by one, the members took their turns at sharing themselves with other members. Each story had something I could relate to. Some made me cry my own grief. Some showed me how small my so-called problems are in comparison to theirs.

I couldn’t help but recall the things that were taught to us by Dr. Wan Kader in his lectures about anxieties experienced by members. Resistance and reluctance were present in certain members. These elements were evident in the shallowness of the issues shared with the group. However, I kept my opinions to myself and simply observed and absorbed as much as I could everything that I could perceive. I wasn’t going to allow the mental stance of other members to influence how I was going to do my sharing. I was determined to resolve my issues. This retreat is about me.

When it came to my turn to share, my heart was filled with excitement and dread. I told my story according to what was composed on my collage. But my issues were not on it. I couldn’t find an image that could depict betrayal. I had to show it through my verbal expressions. When I broke down while sharing my anxieties about trusting others, I wasn’t angry with myself for being weak. I believed that I needed to demolish every bit of me that has been destroyed by betrayal in order to rebuild something new that will be stronger and resilient. My sharing lasted almost 2 hours. But what I received from the other members and Dr. Wan Kader was well worth all the tears and pain. I have learned to trust again. I know now why the betrayal of my two old friends was so traumatizing. I realized that my trust in my soul brother does not die with his untimely passing. I have found myself again. And I am determined to never lose myself in my mental anguish anymore.

After I finished my sharing, Dr. Wan Kader called for a break. A barbeque dinner was scheduled in less than two hours. As the group began to disperse, almost all of the group members approached me. I apologized to them for taking so much of the group’s time. They, in turn, surprised me by saying how much they have learned from my sharing. Their hugs and words of support gave me comfort beyond description. My ability to trust has been restored. I feel brave to trust again.
The barbeque dinner was fairly enjoyable. The food was lousy but the company was wonderful. I felt honored when my classmates requested for me to sing a few songs to entertain them for the evening. Although it was impromptu, I delivered the best I could and sang from my heart. But mentally, I was geared for a long night. Group counseling with Dr. Wan Kader was known for his marathon tendencies. Mental stamina was crucial and greatly needed to see this group process until the end.

As the group convene after dinner was over, it was obvious that everyone was ready for hard work. The group cohesion was evident when members were ready to interact with each other in a more voluntary manner. I noticed how Dr. Wan Kader called for a 5 minutes break after each member’s sharing. He would disconnect himself from the group for what I guess to be a mental break. Mental stamina comes to mind again.

As the clock ticks later into the night and began inching towards the wee hours of the morning, it was getting harder for members to remain awake and not nod off to sleep. I saw how everyone struggled to pay attention to each member’s sharing, harder for some than others. As for me, I was relieved that my F1 racing was absent. My head was clear and although I was mentally tired, I was alert.

I have to admit that I found one member of the group to be very annoying. I tried my level best not to let this feeling show. I was aware that my feelings for this member could be a result of mental and physical fatigue. So, I just sat back and let others take the lead. I only participated in that member’s sharing when I felt able to do it constructively.

When all the members of the group had finished sharing their stories, Dr. Wan Kader began the final stage of the group counseling process. We were asked about what we have learned from this experience and we shared our individual experiences with each other. We walked out of the hall at 5 am feeling mentally, physically and emotionally tired. All that was left on my mind was sleep.

Since our group ended very late, we were allowed to sleep through breakfast, if we wished to. My phone alarm woke me up at 9.45 am and I quickly showered, got dressed and packed my bags. The closing ceremony was due at 10.30 am and I didn’t want to be late. I walked toward the hall with a slight spring in my steps. I felt like new. I looked forward to seeing Dr. Wan Kader again. This time my reason is not to unload my issues but to thank him for being there for me. He pulled me out of the water when I was emotionally drowning.

Lunch was scheduled before we were to board the bus bound for UKM. The atmosphere was joyous and happy. I was looking forward to going home, back into the arms of my loving husband and daughters. I wanted to show them the new me. But while I really wanted to go home, I felt a huge mass of sadness creeping up my chest. I was going to miss the people I have learned to trust the day before. I was afraid I was going to lose them and their much needed support. I sobbed as hard as the day my soul brother passed away. Comfort was regained when we exchanged phone numbers and promised to keep in touch with each other.

What did I learn from this marathon group counseling retreat? It is very hard to put words to describe this profound experience. It has been etched in stone, unlike the footprints in the sand during the sensory exercise that gets washed away with the crushing waves.

I can’t help but compare my first retreat experience with this one. For one, the knowledge that I gained from Dr. Wan Kader’s lectures had given me a deeper understanding as to what was going on during the group processes and stages.  At the first retreat, I was totally clueless and was merely a client member in a group. But this time around, although I was a client too, I was also a counselor learning to apply my knowledge to practice. I was made aware of what was required from a group leader. Dr. Wan Kader epitomizes the embodiment of group counselor’s characteristics, personally and professionally. Most of these characteristics cannot be taught theoretically but through example. He showed me how a group counselor ‘looks’ like.

I’ve also learned that mental, emotional and physical stamina is important in conducting a marathon group counseling session. Pure determination and passion is not enough to see a group counselor through a long marathon. Mental coping strategies in maintaining stamina are vital in the effectiveness of a group counselor.

I now understand that not all issues can be resolved, even in marathon group counseling sessions. Counselors need to be realistic about what can be achieved with the given limitations and challenges of each setting. After all, at the end of the day, whether you are a counselor or a client, we are all human beings. No one is perfect. No one is strong and resilient all the time. Everyone has limitations and own personal issues. We will become who we want to be and be where we want to be when we are good and ready. Until that moment arrives, we must continue our journey and hopefully discover parts of ourselves that will complete us when we reach our potential destination.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Precious Little Ana

This photo of Little Ana brought tears to my eyes. This was taken at her uncle's wedding. She was photographed clapping her hands because her mother was the emcee for the event. Each time her mother finished saying something, she would applaud. 

That's how precious she is. Always there to cheer everyone on. Always there to appreciate others. Always there to make others happy. Her happiness was never her own priority. Neither was it anyone else's priority. 

She's now as silent as death. Grieving for all that she has lost without ever owning anything. Yet, she only faults herself. As much as she would like to believe she's worthy of love, she hasn't the courage to bring herself to believe it. 

My left hand remains dead quiet. No one else knows loss as she. So young to have lost so much. I pray I am enough a constant for her. If she dies, I die too. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Angels Walking Amongst Us

While I was browsing in Borders bookstore earlier today, I suddenly heard a man's voice saying, "Hello, lady in brown" (for the record, I was wearing animal prints in silver and brown jubah with black hijab). As I turned around whilst saying hello, I was met by an elderly man who introduced himself as Mr Siva. He said I looked familiar and asked if I was a lecturer from University Malaya. I told him that I'm a new lecturer at HELP university. He went on to explain that he was an Economics lecturer at UM. I asked him why he didn't introduce himself as Dr. Siva. He said, "We, American Phd graduates, never introduce ourselves as Doctors. We just use our names. Who cares about titles when substance and intellect will speak louder than the title of our qualifications." I felt so honored to have met this humble and fatherly warm person. I introduced him to my husband and we went on to have a very delightful conversation. 

He said his childhood in Kuala Pilah taught him two things which he holds as part of his belief system: "Jangan tarok pasir dalam periuk nasi orang" (Don't put sand in other people's rice bowl) and "Jangan pijak orang yang dah jatuh" (Don't step on those who have fallen). He went on to say how tightly he holds on to God and the bible. Lastly he said, "Beware of those who ask for your help and then backstabs you after you've helped them." I can't help but believe he was sent my way to remind me to let Allah handle things beyond my control. Alhamdulillah for the angels who walk amongst us. 💜

After reaching home, I found my thoughts still pondering on that man. So I decided to google him. What I found was simply astounding because not only is he everything he said he is, there wasn't a single iota of exaggeration found in his words. He is what he said he is; and more. 

This is the angel I met today.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bangsar Gangstars: A Night to Remember

Its 5 am and I'm still wide awake. Probably a spillover from the exciting and hilariously exhilirating night spent catching up with friends from my old hood: Bangsar Gangstars.

After more than 3 decades of not seeing each other, Boe (Syed Zaidi) pulled out his magic apron and hosted the best BBQ Hari Raya open house and invited all those who lived in Bangsar in their teens. Seeing all those familiar faces that has somewhat changed by age (some were hardly touched by time! Jealous aku! LOL!), brought back a flood of wonderful and funny memories of my teen years living in Bangsar Baru, mainly on Terasek 3 and Terasek 1.

With Boe (Botak aka Syed Zaidi)

Although the gathering had begun at 5 pm, my family and I arrived close to 9 pm. As we walked in to locate the host, I was greeted warmly with familiar faces galore! Lis aka Melissa Saila and her husband Megat Fauzi, Syed Najib, Ernie, Lenny, Karim, Amran, Zamzuri, Iskandar Boy, Ja'a... all these people with whom I grew up with. They were always uber protective of me. They considered me one of the boys. I was never regarded as a "kodok" but a "katak" just like them! Hahahahaa!

With Lis aka Melissa Saila

Old stories from yesteryears came up. Among them were the time when Iskandar Boy and Hanif had shot fire crackers at my house from Bangsar's Sports Complex a few days before Raya and my mom turned into a raging Hulk and stormed out to look for the boys. They had ran off and were hiding in the big drains. Poor Karim was seated on the bench when my mom charged outside. Karim being the polite boy he was (and still is) tried to pacify my mom but he got his hair pulled by mom in the process! As I'm typing this out, I cannot help but giggle at the memory but it was really not funny at that time! I said to Iskandar Boy, "Engkau kena mintak ampun dengan mak aku lah...! Hahahahaa!" to which he replied, "Memang pun! Tolong lah arrange for me to meet your mother!" 

And maybe due to the decades apart, Lenny felt it was okay to divulge the fact that he heard that I was being spied on during my teens! Now THAT was NEWS to me! And despite all coaxing and persuasions, he refused to reveal who the spy was. However, its no surprise why I was never in any form of harm because these boys were also my bouncers. If anyone threatened to hurt me, they would make sure those people would BOUNCE out of Bangsar! Hahahaahahaha!

With the Bangsar gangstars, although many couldn't make it to the gathering.

By the time we left for home, it was 2 am. However, the conversations that took place tonight brought back a myriad of sweet and funny memories of yore. On the way home, hubby commented how it was good to see me laugh so much tonight. And he thought it would be a great idea if this kind of gathering is done more often because it seemed to have helped me bounce out of the lengthy depressive rut I've been in of late. I admit it was hard to say goodnight to the boys. But I'm glad for one thing: I managed to leave a wasiat with them. "When my time is up, please come ziarah me and say a doa for me." That request was met with a silence and a look that says "We will always be a part of each other, no matter how far life takes us away from Bangsar."

Alhamdulillah for old friends who remain true throughout decades. And syukur alhamdulillah for Ernie and Lenny who reverted to Islam. Allahu akbar. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hanging On a Prayer

I understand now how easily adults forget how to be children. The world is filled with countless stressors and responsibilities and commitments. Hardly the kind of environment any adult would want to live in, what more a small child. Prowling predators, malicious intents, assortment of abusers galore. How are we to protect our children from these dangerous people? How am I to protect my inner child from these harsh environments and people?

Little Ana has been silent as death for the longest time. It is as though she has died. But I know she's still alive because I can feel her hurting. Her little heart in pain. Somehow, she has found solace and safety in silence and seclusion.

I hate the circumstances that I'm in which exposes me to so many toxic people. People who are so hineous with their spite and malice. I have to be the matured and responsible adult when dealing with misbehaving 'children.' Some people just never grow up. They go around in life behaving like spoilt privileged brats and yet they expect to be respected as adults. We end up parenting them because their own parents had failed to do what should have gotten done while these kids were growing up. Abuse is not just about what wrong that was done. Abuse is also about what needed to get done but never was. Neglect. Am I neglecting Little Ana simply because I have to be a responsible adult around countless immature people?

A few days ago, Star Trek Beyond premiered in Malaysia. I saw this as an opportunity to bait Little Ana out of her shell. Somehow, it worked! She clapped gleefully when she first saw Spock. She cried when the Enterprise shattered to pieces. She stayed in her seat and hummed along the Star Trek theme song and ignored all the other members of the audience who got up to their feet as they started to exit the cinema. She stayed put until the screen turned black. And then she smiled and faded back into silence. Maybe silence and seclusion are her last resources for self preservation.

She deserves better. She deserves the best. She deserves to be loved and to feel loved. She deserves full and loving attention. She deserves to be appreciated and valued. She deserves to be visible!

One thing I know for sure: I die when Little Ana dies. Right now, it feels as though I am hanging onto a cliff by just my little pinky finger. Will I be able to hang on?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

At The End of a Good Day

Today started out really good for me. I had a haircut, after more than 2 years since the last time I had anything done to my hair. Later on in the night, I gave a lecture on what it takes to be a counselor. I was definitely in my element, as the subject is definitely one of my great favorites. I had the class break out into moments of huge laughter as I lace information with humor and wit. That felt SO good!

So, why is it, at the end of such a wonderfully fulfilling day, I find myself sitting down at the kitchen table, nursing an ache in my heart? I know the source of it. It is my inner child. Little Ana. She has been through so much since I rescued her from her dark and unhappy 'home.' I promised her many things, among them is to protect her from any form of harm. I can feel her unhappiness. I can feel her frustrations at the limited amount of free time for her to come out of her hiding from the world. I can feel her confusion. I can feel her fear. What does she fear? Anger. Uncertainty. Instability. Being forgotten.

A few months ago, she chose a page from a coloring book. It had words on it which read along the lines of "I've decided I don't wanna grow up." A colleague of mine did mention that there's a possibility she will not grow up and mature fast enough to catch up with me. In fact, there's a huge chance she might regress into infancy stage where she perceives to be safer that this world.

Ever since I began working full time, I hardly have enough free time to allow her any form of indulgence; even simple ones such as coloring or even blowing bubbles. Poor little girl has such simple needs. Yet, even those are difficult for me to fulfill. I look forward to Ramadhan with the hope that it will bring me more leisure time to allocate for Little Ana.

She had endured so much physical abuse prior to me rescuing her. She was on the receiving end of an extremely angry mother and a neglectful father. I crack my head trying to figure out a way to comfort her. She's in her shell most often than not, and I believe she needs that shell as a baby would need a security blanket. People gave her things when it is people that she needed; not things. And the saddest part of all is how people always put other things as priority over her. I pray to Allah that He will bless me with the opportunity to keep my promises to Little Ana. However, I am keeping one promise right now and always: I will never allow any angry people around you, sweetheart. You've suffered enough. Now, rest easy. We are home. I love you, precious.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Watermark Perspective.

I noticed my office window was dirty with dried grimy water marks on it. I wanted to clean it but the window frames are screwed shut. And I thought, "Oh, well. If I can't clean the outside, I'll just give the inside a good scrub." To my surprise, the dirty surface was on the inside, not on the outside! This taught me a lesson: when you look at something and you see dirt, make sure it's that thing that is dirty, not your mind or your heart. How everything appears depends on what's inside of you. If your inner filter is dirty, everything you look at will seem dirty too. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

So, This is How it Feels Like...

It's been almost a year since I began lecturing. What a transition from more than 2 decades of counseling in private practice. Although I still see clients from MY Confidential, my role as a lecturer has taught me many things, to say the least.

As I ponder upon the many personalities I have encountered throughout my private practice, I can't help but notice the similarities in the struggles people bravely face in the process of improving their lives and their selves among my clients as well as those among my students.

Teaching psychology is not easy. Learning psychology, as a student, is a lot harder especially when every lesson makes you look at yourself and your life in different lights. I still remember my own battles with each step I took during my own education. How I resisted to let go of my comfort zone. How I resisted to let go of my filters which were distorted by my own personal traumas and issues. How I was always conscious of my own shortcomings and weaknesses; and how I truly believed that everyone could see my faults as clearly as I saw myself. I was defensive. I was eager to fix myself but at the same time, I was a resistent client. As I began working in private practice and now as a lecturer, I can't deny seeing my own resistance in clients I counseled and students I taught. Their struggles and mine are the same. Fear.

I describe myself as a counseling psychologist who lectures. Somehow, doing this came naturally to me. My approach in counseling have mostly been didactic in nature. Teaching clients to see their selves differently. Educating clients by showing them more effective ways of improving their coping skills. That is what I do. Therefore, I am comfortable in accepting this description of myself as most apt.

So, this is how it feels like to be an educator. There is pure joy when students appreciate what you do for them. There is pure joy in seeing them bloom into potentially superb counselors. There is pure joy in believing that I have a role in them becoming mental health professionals who would go out there and make a difference in the world. Pure joy.