Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year 2009


It's another half hour to when the clock strikes midnight and when the 2008 calendar can be dumped into the dustbin. It's the time when many people you don't hear from throughout the year suddenly drop you a mass email or SMS wishing you the usual wishes of a 'happy new year', etc etc etc. Or some simply forward you some wishes or e-card that's been forwarded all around the world over and over again. Where's the originality and personal touch?

So this one below is my original wish to one and all.

"May you usher in the new year with a contented heart, a hopeful spirit for better things despite the present realities, and joy and gratitude for all the blessings you and yours have received this year. May your prayers and wishes be granted and may you continue to enjoy good health, and the company, support and love of family and close friends. May you find strength and peace during stormy weathers and sing like a bird in spring when the flowers bloom."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Busy day today

I'm simply recording my busy day. Not required reading for you as it could be boring.

I've just completed two hours of writing for some $$ and going to call it a day. My day began at 6.30am today to get ready to bring Caitlin to her new school for her orientation.

We listened to the briefing by the Headmistress and various teachers, met her class teacher, got a mini-tour of the school for her to know where her classroom, the washroom, field and canteen are. We listened to the rules, drop-off and pick-up arrangements, administrative matters required etc etc etc.

We then drove home to jump-start my car (it couldn't start since two days ago) to get it checked at the workshop. We then drove to a hypermarket on the way home to pick up some stuff and then met Eugene's parents when they arrived and went straight out for lunch.

After lunch we dropped mum, dad and Caitlin home and went straight to the new house to meet some contractors. The appointment was for 2pm but they turned up one-and-a-half hours late. When they arrived, we hit a snag with the job. Part of it was done by 5pm and can only be completed on Saturday, hopefully.

We then rushed to the workshop to pick up my car. Turns out that the alternator (second time now) was faulty and failed to fully charge the batteries resulting in failure to start the engine...Cost us a sizeable dent again following last month's humongous dent. This Continental car of mine has been rather troublesome of late....In between 2pm and 6pm, I got two calls from Caitlin asking why we weren't home yet.

Got home slightly past 6pm and immediately whipped up a vegetable dish for dinner. Thankfully, mum and dad brought Klang's famous 'bak kut teh' so I didn't have to cook any meat, soup or rice.

After dinner, I started writing at 9pm. Eugene put Caitlin to bed at 9pm and she slept by 9.30pm. I'm blogging now to end the day, after 17 hours on the go non-stop. It's been a very long day.

I've lived every moment in the moment today needless to say as my brains did not have the opportunity to think of the past or future.

The next moment to live now is to sleep. Ha ha. We're trying to get Caitlin to change her body clock to sleep by 9pm and arise by 6am for when school starts in five days' time. Hope I can wake at 6am tomorrow... :(

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Peronal year-end thoughts

The year is ending in a few days' time. For me to say "time flies" is just an understatement. Where did all the days of 2008 go? They have whizzed by. There are moments which, like a whirlwind romance(not that I ever had one!), I wish could have lasted longer for me to savour them better. Some of those times could have even been boring, depressing, tiring, or frustrating ones but looking back, yes, looking back, they were the times that were unique only at that very particular moment then.

I realised this weirdly enough as I was doing something trivial but necessary this morning. After being tired of nagging Caitlin to complete her art-and-craft wind chime which has been abandoned in a heap on the dining table for one week, I decided to just finish up the job myself. During Christmas with extended family, she was introduced to a PC game called Spore. She is now hooked to it and has left some of her very-recent interests like some new Christmas gifts and this wind chime to rot for the time being. "Why am I doing this?" I asked myself aloud. "Because you love her", replied Eugene as he was vacuuming...

Self-awareness is an important thing. Being aware of the moment you are in and how you are (in doing and being) in that moment is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Miss it and it's gone. You never know what little reminders or gems of knowledge you can pick up when you are IN that moment.

Coincidentally, I've been following this TV series (on DVD and online) called 'Life' of late. The main character, Charlie Crews, is a cop who was wrongly imprisoned for 12 years. After he was cleared, his focus is living life one moment to the next, and doing his best to make sure each one is better than the last, in the midst of fighting crime (he was reinstated) and trying to figure out who had framed him.

2009 heralds a bunch of new things for ACE: new home i.e. new surroundings, new education experience (Caitlin is going to Year 1 in primary school on Jan 5th) which means a whole new daily routine for the entire family, new pet dogs (yup, in the plural until such time we convince Caitlin to give up one), a new client for me hopefully (I'm awaiting their confirmation), new plans for year-round activities, vacations etc.

Before we sing Auld Lang Syne, it's time to ask how 2008 really was for us. What should we be mindful of in 2009? Or should we live in the moment and focus on right here, right now, today, this minute? I am pondering on that. Many a time we live in the past and in the future. Our thoughts are always jumping between the past and the future, where we were and what we did in the past and what we envision and want the future to be. Seldom are we, or rather I'm speaking for myself, seldom am I, fully aware of the 'right here, right now', habits of a worrier and perfectionist.

Life is this moment in time. Why go shopping when you don't need anything? Why eat or buy more than you need to? Today, I discovered that on Christmas day, my former employer's wife had passed away after three months battling lymphoma. I feel sad for him and his kids. I had worked relatively closely with him (compared to others I've worked for whom I hardly ever took a liking to or respected) and met and spoken to his wife before too. She was a pleasant and good lady.

In the middle of this year, my dear grandmother left this world following colorectal cancer surgery. I lost a dear girlfriend my age close to three years ago, another colleague in her mid-20s 10 years ago, an aunt over 20 years ago, a classmate about 15 years ago...all to some form of cancer. Two weeks ago, my sister-in-law's dad passed away too from leukemia. Getting cancer is almost like catching a cold these days. I read somewhere that the risk is now one in every four people...

Cancer or no cancer, everyone dies. Living in the moment, knowing our purpose in life, leaving a beautiful legacy for our loved ones matters more than all the material things of this world. How much do we actually need? My girlfriend who lost her fight to cancer said in my last meeting with her that she didn't need much. How much clothes can you wear? One set for each day of the week is more than enough compared to those who don't even have a shirt on their backs.

And here, Caitlin and other kids whose parents can afford it have pretty dresses which they wear only a couple of times before they get outgrown. Being able to 'recyle' them as hand-me-downs is beside the point. Caitlin right now has enough pencils, erasers, sharpeners, crayons, colour pencils, pencil cases of all shapes and colours and designs, to last her entire 10-12 years of education probably. Mobile phones, computers, handheld game consoles, iPods, portable DVD players.... It's got to stop somewhere. We need to start somewhere to decide what's most important. I'm not saying we must live deprived lives deliberately but some sense of control, focus, balance must be there.

I don't find it easy to avoid temptation from eating more than I should (oh how I love to eat nice food!) or buying Caitlin a Nintendo simply because she looks so pitiful beside some kids who have their very own, but it is something I think I should stay steadfast on. Eat healthily, buy only what's necessary, live in the moment.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Working from home

Working from home is a good option for mothers who are crazy enough to want to hold two demanding jobs i.e. caring for her kids full-time and earning money by providing goods or services.

But not all mothers are crazy. Some have no choice because circumstances dictate such measures. It is a juggling feat to keep up with domestic chores (I'm talking about mums who are not fortunate enough to have maids), caring for the kids and meeting all their daily needs, and working at the same time.

One's self-discipine, time management skill, patience and commitment are tested to the hilt.

I'm trying to work at my desk but Caitlin keeps pestering me to help her try out her new toy, a nail art salon thing which she can decorate her nails with. While supervising her piano practice, the phone rings and I've to deal with the contractor of our new house and follow up with other phone calls to make new arrangements. She continues playing in the background but I missed what she played. I ask her to repeat but she's reluctant. Depending on what mood both of us are in, the stalemate is resolved either amicably or with tension and aggession. Such is a typical scenario.

And the phone is ringing again now...(not joking).


http://www.weaselcircus.com/funnypics/405.shtml

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Autumn leaves

This is an eight-minute video worth watching which combines the unique styles of jazz and classical by two great Singaporean teams - Jeremy Monteiro and T'ang Quartet. Such effortless and flawless playing.

O Holy Night

Various versions of one of my favourite Christmas songs. Always gives me goose bumps. The one by Mariah Carey does not allow embedding so you need to watch it here.



Merry Christmas

Christmas greetings from ACE! May we all count our blessings and remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wrap, wrap, wrap

The past few days at home were spent with paper, scissors, coloured markers, colour pencils, crayons, and sticky tape. We made our own Christmas gift wrappers again this year for all the presents we bought for our family members.

Eugene, Caitlin and I (mainly I) drew Christmas motifs and patterns on white paper and wrapped all the various shapes and sizes of gifts. I completed the wrapping yesterday. Left them on a heap on the floor in the dining room and today, I managed to pack them into three large bags, ready to be brought to the Ong family home in Klang tomorrow evening to be put under the tree before they get distributed after midnight mass and Christmas supper.

I then moved from paper to clear plastic wrappers to wrap Caitlin's school text and work books. Still have half of the entire stack to finish as I got tired after about six books yesterday.... I got Caitlin to write her name on the books herself.

We're 12 days away from the first day of primary school for Caitlin on 5 January. I worry about how we're going to get up really early in the morning to get to school on time the first one or two weeks. School is a reasonable distance away and we're not familiar with how traffic will be at that hour. I'm a worrier. Caitlin's always been a late sleeper and difficult riser, and slow to get moving. That's very much from the X chromosome contributed by Eugene! Of course, the other X from me carries some troublesome traits too I must admit.

The next few days will be busy ones, juggling Christmas obligations and trying to tie up loose ends for our new home. We are however still quite far from being able to move in.... Turning a completely new and bare house into something livable for a FAMILY takes a lot of planning and persevering as we are discovering.

We've also discovered that all building and renovation contractors, whether known to us or recommended by others, are one and the same! This is said with much annoyance. I've yet to come across one who is not unscrupulous, conscientious and totally commited to work and service quality. And their use of unskilled foreign labour totally irks me!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Outings with Caitlin

A picture to remember every special outing with Caitlin before she grows any faster and I lose track. Hope I've not left out any. The photos are in chronological order starting from Caitlin at 18 months till Caitlin at 6+ currently.

Fraser's Hill, 1 May 2004

Malacca Zoo, 4 July 2004

Butterfly Park, Kuala Lumpur, 22 Jan 2005

Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, 24 July 2005

Penang Mutiara Beach Resort, 21 Oct 2005

Penang Butterfly Farm, 16 Jan 2006

Singapore, 1 Sept 2007

The Eye on Malaysia, Titiwangsa Lake Kuala Lumpur, 1 Jan 2008

Taman Tasik Perdana Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur, 17 Feb 2008

Genting Highlands Theme Park, 27 Apr 2008

Damai Puri Resort, Rainforest World Music Festival, Santubong near Kuching, Sarawak,16 July 2008

Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, Pahang, 22 Aug 2008

Mutiara Burau Bay Resort, Langkawi, 11 Dec 2008

The times

It is easy to hide, avoid, procrastinate, give excuses when you are online. You just select to be invisible or block selected people from viewing you. You can choose not to reply, or to reply with words that are vague for instance. You can say you missed the email or did not receive it at all if confronted. Maybe it went into your spam box, which you don't check, by mistake. You can avoid issues and confrontations simply by keeping quiet and ignoring.

You can also use pseudonyms for email addresses or fake identities in chatboxes or social networking sites. You can change your identity, and become someone else without anyone knowing. Seems like anyone can do anything these days online. People can hack, steal others' identities, blackmail, cheat, spam, learn how to make a bomb, spread viruses etc

We are living in dangerous times...

I think I've been watching too much Criminal Minds and marveling at Penelope Garcia's tech abilities!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Shakespeare, Henry V

"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother...."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Crush

Everytime Caitlin visits the Giant hypermart nearby, she'll ask to buy Pokemon figurines from a stall selling knick-knacks to add on to her collection. After seeing how many (countless!) a son of our friend's has, she has been even more eager to boost her collection. The boy's name is Michael Jr. and he is a bespectacled 10-year-old kid.

Today, Caitlin added another six Pokemons to her collection and in the process asked me why Michael Jr has stopped collecting. I told her that he's now probably more interested in other things. End of conversation. A few hours later upon reaching home, another conversation took place.

Caitlin: Can I be Michael Jr's girlfriend?

Me (suspecting that it's because of his interest in Pokemon): Why?

Caitlin: I have a crush in him.

Me (surprised that my six-year-old knows how to use the word 'crush'): I have a crush ON him. Why do you have a crush on him?

Caitlin: Because I like boys with glasses!

Me: ???!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Langkawi pictures






















Brother JM and family's visit back home in Seremban








Back from Langkawi

We went on a family holiday on Thursday and returned home yesterday afternoon. The Ong family, comprising Eugene's parents, brother and sister and their families, and us, spent our first family holiday together in Langkawi for 3 days and 2 nights. The kids, and adults, had lots of fun on the beach, in the sea and pool. Lots of energy was released those 3 days and gave us, especially the kids, time together to bond. We stayed at the Mutiara Burau Bay Resort. Their accommodation was chalet-style. The chalets were cosy but rather small and cramped and old. Needs refurbishment.

We rented a van for those 3 days and went out for meals and some shopping (duty free alcohol, snacks and drinks, ikan bilis and cashew nuts). The weather was good i.e. top-grade sunshine and occasional soothing sea breeze.

The highlight of our beach experience was the discovery of a sizeable area of sea bed near the shore during low tide that was concentrated with hundreds (or maybe thousands) of hermit crabs. Kids and adults alike spent over an hour scooping them up, marvelling at the beautiful patterns on the shells and the crabs peeking out of them. We even managed to catch a few small crabs, one of which gave me a shockingly painful pinch with both its pincers.

We had lunch one afternoon at Palmville Seafood Restaurant in the Pantai Cenang stretch of shoplots. The food was quite tasty and reasonably priced. Too bad we didn't manage to take pics of the food. We were all so hungry that the dishes were polished off rather quickly!

On our second and last night there, we went to Perdana Quay for dinner. We decided to check out Pulau Pulau Seafood and Steamboat Restaurant. They have steamboat at RM38++ per adult (half price for kids) but we opted to order dishes. We decided never to go back there again if we go to Langkawi in future. Service was terribly lousy and so was the food. We made up for the lousy dinner with dessert at The Loaf, the much-publicised bakery cum cafe of which our former prime minister is a shareholder. They have a branch in Kuala Lumpur at Pavilion mall.

Will post some pics of our holiday later.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Busy week with kids and family

For the past nine days, I was back home at my parent's house spending time with family. My older brother and his family are visiting from the States and the house was abuzz with trying to keep up with breakfast, lunch, dinner, feeding the kids, managing their crankiness and keeping them from mischief and fights. There was never a moment that you could hear a pin drop. Many things we said to the kids were with exclamation marks, and most of the time, they were repeated at least thrice. The wooden staircase in the house got a good workout with the kids stomping up and down it all the time.

Chestnut and Jenna were 'tortured' by Caitlin and Kinglee, her 3.5-year-old American cousin, during bath time, while training them to get used to their leash and during short walks for toilet training.

Caitlin, being the 'big sister', found a groupie in Kinglee who literally followed her around, copying exactly everything she did and said. Caitlin was totally irritated with her sweet little cousin's adoration resulting in us adults having to sort them out almost all day everyday. Kids these days are a handful. My bro and I commented that we doubt we were ever like that during our time. We were more 'blur' then I believe.

As my parents' home is hardly child-friendly, keeping Ryan, my 1.5-year-old nephew, from touching my dad's breakable collectibles and endangering himself, was another energy-sapping task. This little boy is more curious than the proverbial cat and likes poking his fingers into places he's not supposed to, and turning things upside down to see what's interesting underneath. Life at his grandparents' house was so interesting with so many adults and kids and stuff to explore that his routine was thrown out of sync. This usually greedy, good eater decided exploration was better than food and sleep for once.

As for Kinglee's baby sister Kingmei, she's the most well-behaved, mainly because she's only 7 months old! She could be rather loud at times but always gives you the most adorable smile when her eyes meet yours. Caitlin loves her a lot and enjoyed cooing, playing peek-a-boo and 'This little piggy' with her.

Food was abundant throughout the day, typical of my mum who shows her motherly love by keeping our tummies filled all the time. A mixture of home-cooked and outside fare filled the dining table all day. It sure felt like Chinese New Year with so much food during and in-between meals. I guess it was called for since we are a 'complete' family only every few years when my older brother and his family visit from the States.

Speaking of food, I'm hungry now and am craving for some Seremban beef noodles. Too bad I'm back in KL. It's almost dinner time and Caitlin and I are waiting for Eugene to return from work before we go out for dinner. Not cooking tonight. Had not been the past 9 days which is a good break, and I will not be till the weekend as we'll be taking a short holiday somewhere up north.

I'll blog again next week I guess.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Additions to our family

We'll be having additions to our family soon. It will happen next year after we move to our new home (which currently is giving us headaches with some snags with the defects...sigh, I foresee a battle with the developers).

We had been planning for just one but it looks like we may end up with two. One is female and the other male. They are named Jenna and Rusty. Jenna is a mongrel my dad found with her other four brothers and sisters. We adopted Jenna and her brother Chestnut while dad's neighbours took in the other three pups.

At the same time, Eugene's friend's miniature schnauzer gave birth and we've booked one male pup. Caitlin has been dreaming of having a schnauzer for the longest time so it's her dream come true. She had decided last year that she would name her schnauzer Rusty if she ever got one.

Since we now can't care for the pups at our apartment, my dad is looking after Jenna with his own pup Chestnut at his house. Meanwhile, Rusty has yet to grow old enough (only 2-3 weeks old now) for us to collect him.

Caitlin with Jenna

Rusty

Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday camp over

This week just flew by in a wink of an eye. Today marks the end of the second week of the school holidays and the last day of Caitlin's holiday camp. The past two weeks, she had enjoyed herself tremendously at school. They ended the camp today with a slideshow of what they did for two weeks and the children performed some song-and-dance to entertain parents who were invited for the simple show and buffet lunch. She also got a certificate of attendance and brought back all the things they made.

The theme for the camp was the Underwater World. They learnt how to rear fish in an aquarium, did some art and craft related to the aquatic world, made environmental enzyme, baked cookies, listened to stories and learnt about extinct ocean creatures, why the ocean is salty, why a ship can sail on the ocean and how to protect the sea creatures. She also got to experience making fish balls by helping the teachers scrape the flesh out of fresh fish, participated in fun water games in the school playground and pool and the highlight was an excursion to Aquaria KLCC.

Everyday without fail Caitlin would tell me excitedly what she did at school the minute I pick her up. If only normal school days are as exciting...

I too learnt some things like the saw-tooth fish has become extinct, there are now only 19 types of sharks left, how to make environment enzyme and what it's for. I also got a lecture one afternoon on why I should bring a recyclable bag for grocery shopping! As we were getting out of the car upon reaching home from school, Caitlin saw me getting some plastic bags of groceries out of the car. I had bought some groceries before fetching her from school. Immediately, she chided me exclaiming "Mummy, you must not use plastic bags! You must bring your own bag that can be recyled! It's not good to use plastic bags. If the sea turtles eat them, they will die! Bring your own bag and ask the cashier to put the things into the bag...."

Ok, I must make an effort to be more green.

Caitlin's environmental enzyme

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Rose



Some say love, it is a river
that drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
that leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger,
an endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
and you its only seed.

It's the heart afraid of breaking
that never learns to dance.
It's the dream afraid of waking
that never takes the chance.
It's the one who won't be taken,
who cannot seem to give,
and the soul afraid of dyin'
that never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been too long,
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong,
just remember in the winter
far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed that with the sun's love
in the spring becomes the rose.

- sung by Bette Midler

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dermatoglyphics

Caitlin's Mandarin language centre had a seminar on dermatoglyphics a few days ago. Unfortunately it was conducted in Mandarin and I wouldn't have been able to follow the talk even if I went. Dermatoglyphics is the study of fingerprints which allows you to find out your learning style and dominant intelligence.

According to this website, it is through Dermatoglyphics that one can uncover one's congenital intelligence, character traits and discover one's hidden potential.

Here's more:
Dermatoglyphics refers to the branch of science in the study of the patterns of skins (dermal) ridges present on the fingers, palms, toes and the soles of human. It reveals the congenital links between our fingerprints and our intrinsic qualities and talents.

Dermatoglyphics is coined by Professor Harold Cummins in the 20th century.

Since 1920s, there have been numerous research papers published in the study of Dermatoglyphics in the medical field, especially in relation to some genetically-linked diseases.

Dermatoglyphics has absolute scientific basis, with 200 years of research. It is analyzed and proven with evidence in anthropology, genetics, medicine and statistics.

In recent years, U.S., Japan and Taiwan have applied Dermatoglyphics to educational fields, human resource management, employee recruitment, etc.

Fingerprint patterns are unique and are heavily influenced by one's genetic make-up. In 1892, an anthropologist, Francis Galton discovered that fingerprints are individually unique and will never change throughout one's entire lifetime. It has been shown that our fingerprints are closely related to the development of our nervous system. In other words, dermatoglyphics can reveal one's intelligence. Traditionally, IQ is used as a means to quantify a person's level of intelligence. In recent times, it is realised that man's intelligence is multiple, and everyone has different kinds of intelligence. Dr Howard Gardner introduced in his book, Frames of Mind, that man has at least eight intelligences - namely, interpersonal, intrapersonal, spatial-visual, logical-mathematics, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, linguistic and naturalist intelligences. As each person's genetic make-up is different, so is his intelligence.


This is something new to me. The principal of Caitlin's Mandarin centre shared that she had the analysis done for her children and found that it was accurate in determining their learning styles. The report for the analysis is in Mandarin since the people who conducted it were from Taiwan. The test, however, is rather costly, it seems. But if it is accurate and can help you plan the learning path for your children, wouldn't it a worthwhile investment?

Thanks to Google (as always), I found an outfit in Singapore that is involved in dermatoglyphics. Their website contains more information about this field, how it can be applied, etc etc.

And even better, there's a company in Malaysia that provides services in dermatoglyphics. Their company profile can be found here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

'Aunty' talking business - part 2 (see below for part 1)

Wah, this 'aunty' suddenly on a roll on this topic... Actually I just want to set some records straight lah, especially for those who think they know a lot about network marketing although they've not been there and done that and make loose comments or accusations. I'm not promoting nor defending the network marketing industry and I'm not saying I'm an expert since I've been there, done that technically for only about a year up to last year.

No, I've not given up on it but just taking a breather to recoup what I've done so far, not in the biz, but in life in general. Call it 'joyfully turning 40 soon' or mid-life crisis, whatever... Moreover, being a housewife takes up lots of time, effort, emotional and mental energy. Or are these just excuses for my lack of drive, focus and lethargy? Truly don't know and I'm just probably psychotic. Ha ha. Caitlin asked me the meaning of this word (psychotic) yesterday after hearing it used in the movie Madagascar.

I had been an employee for 14 years to big-time Malaysian entrepreneurs up to age 36 before I decided to be boss (or should it be slave?) at home. My bosses, directly or indirectly, included the Loys, Ananda Krishnan and my favourite, Tong Kooi Ong. They are the millionaires, billionaires or gazillionaires (who knows their real net worth?). I was one of their thousands of employees climbing the ladder from junior exec to assistant manager to manager. Some titles I carried sounded expensive, but it only stopped there, sounding expensive I mean, not being expensive. None of us are millionaires (yet?) as far as I know. Any ex-colleagues reading this who have become millionaires by solely working for existing millionaires, please remember me ah...

Okay, back to network marketing. In my little experience, I've encountered the good and bad. The best being friends and strangers who were truly open to listen but declined graciously or to my surprise after my lousy sharing, signed up or bought something. The worst? I've yet to experience I believe.

The not-so-good? Friends and strangers who put up a wall, said No even before I said Hi. You need to be thick-skinned to 'sell'. You don't need selling skills. Some people I've approached declined saying "No, I can't do sales, I don't have the gift of the gab, I simply can't talk..." Don't you sell everyday? You sell yourself at a job interview, at work to get your ideas approved, at home to get your kid to eat the greens....I don't view it so much as 'selling' selling. I view it as sharing a concept, an idea, a benefit. It's easier when you speak from your heart and not think of it as 'selling'.

As I mentioned in part 1, many of us have been conditioned with school-degree-good job-retire happy idea. To change this conditioning to help others see otherwise is not easy. Majority of people only know how to trade their personal time for money. Network marketing helps you leverage on other people's time for money. Some view this as not right, unethical, but if you look at businesses, aren't they similar? The entrepreneur is leveraging on his employees time for money too. Well, the debate can go on about this with many perspectives but I'm not here to argue.

Another not-so-good one is getting postponed or ignored, not because I had done anything wrong, but because some people didn't have the guts to decline and simply say they're not interested. Aiyo, adult already but don't know how to treat people with respect ah? Like I will take offence if you say no nicely? Gimme some credit lah...

One that hurt was being left out of a gathering (among friends obviously, otherwise who gives a ****) only to find out later that me and my new venture were featured over teh tarik. Forgive? Forgiven. Forget? Hard to do but must one day. Maybe it was unintentional and done in my best interest albeit inappropriately. Best to give benefit of doubt. I've got bigger things to worry about in fact, like if Caitlin will become a rock drummer, diva or zookeeper when she grows up. Right now, rock drummer scores the lowest as she's been showing less interest in drums :( Zookeeper is the flavour of the month for now.

The world is your oyster when it comes to finding your niche in the business world. A spark of an idea could turn into a wildfire given the right conditions. Again, dream the dream and as they say, aim for the stars and maybe you'll reach the sky.

Other inspirational sayings for this:

Whatever you are, be a good one - Abraham Lincoln

Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts - Winston Churchill

'Aunty' talking business

This is a rather 'cheong hei' post so if you think I'm writing rubbish mid-way reading, stop lah...
I'm becoming more and more convinced over time and looking at things and people around me that doing your own business is a better way to achieving freedom, not only financial freedom but freedom to live life the way YOU want and not how your EMPLOYER dictates.

I know I'm delving into a topic that involves many schools of thought, many perpectives, sub-issues, and opinions etc but well, I'm writing here in my journal (which just happens to be a public one), turning my thoughts into words, that's all.

Between my second and third year (I'm touching fourth year now) of being a stay-home mum or what is proudly termed more commonly as 'housewife', I considered and ventured into an industry that is still, despite its 50-odd years' history and proven track record, perceived as a housewife's business, 'aunty' business, scam, no-class business. I'm sure if you've been around long enough in this world, you'd guess right what business I'm talking about lah! Some call it another sales pitch, another fly-by-night business or simply put, a pyramid scheme. Ding dong, now it rings a bell loud and clear right?

It's right in some cases as like in any industry, there are the legitimate and there are the illegitimate ones. Do you buy original-only DVDs or three-for-RM10 night market ones? Or wait, there's places like Pirate Bay and the likes now too! Some get original Windows from Microsoft, some get copies from their neighbourhood IT shop. Or hold on, your Proton spare part costs twice the OEM-but-'Proton'-branded one, but both serve the same purpose so which one do you get ah?

If you go to a restaurant and found that the food is superb, what do you do? Tell your friends and family of course, especially if you are a food-loving Asian. Found a good deal at the supermarket? Share it with your housewife neighbour over the fence while you put the laundry out together. Your paediatrician has worked magic on your sick child? Before you know it, all your mummy friends will flock there, especially if their child have the same illness as yours had.

Aiya, word-of-mouth marketing lah... Does the restaurant give you a free meal the next time you show up because your aunty told them you recommended their food to her? Did the supermarket give you a discount because your housewife neighbour said she bought that box of cereal from them upon your recommendation? And does your paediatrician give your child free treatment for life because he's got more business now from all your mummy friends?

Direct selling, multi-level marketing, network marketing, and whatever it's called, is one way for ordinary Joes and Janes to start a business of their own with a small, affordable investment, unlike the Warren Buffetts, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or closer to home, Ananda Krishnans, Lim Goh Tongs and other business tycoons of the world. Even they started from somewhere, even from scratch for some.

This industry in general operates on the idea that when you sell or recommend their products for them, you earn, and if the person you sold to also started recommending to others who end up buying, they could earn and so would you. If the resaturant business operated this way, then you'd have earned that free meal when your aunt told them it was you who recommended its good food to her.

In fact, quite a number of businesses have jumped into this sort of marketing to increase its customer base and hence its bottom line. Take for example AAM. They give you a member-get-member form and if you fill it up, they'll give you a free toolkit. Or Reader's Digest, fill up their form with a list of your friends' names and contact details and you get a free address book. Even Citibank and some other financial institutions have followed suit. Refer a friend who signs up for a credit card with them and you'll get a rebate, a free gift, something in return. The network marketing business as I choose to call it, usually 'pays' by giving you future discounts, vouchers, redemption points, and of course cold hard cash.

It becomes a business when you make it a business to sell to others who also make it a business to make it a business for others. I hope I've illustrated it simply and not too confusingly. Soon you'll have a network of business people directly or indirectly within your business circle. Different companies sell different products and services, and offer different types of remuneration schemes. As I mentioned, some are legitimate and some like any other business may not be. Some research and testimony plus consideration as to where your interest in terms of product and service lies should be done in order for you to find the right fit if you choose to delve into it. Just like looking for a salaried-job, would you become an accountant if your interest actually lies in teaching? What are you looking for in that job? Lots of money in lieu of personal growth, freedom and happiness or a balance between job satisfaction, growth, freedom and sufficient monetary reward?

But if the company keeps paying out to your ever expanding business network, wouldn't it go bust? That's what's likely to happen to the pyramid-scheme type of companies which many have fallen prey to. For a network marketing company to sustain, it must have systems in place to avoid overpaying its business reps. It must structure its reward scheme properly, legitimately according to the law relating to this industry, and have set requirements for its reps to meet in order to qualify to reap the rewards. Just like how a bank cannot simply pay customers high interest in order to boost its depositor base and how it has to adhere to the laws regulating the banking industry, or how it has set a minimum balance for your deposit in certain types of accounts before they start calculating/paying you interest.

Go in with eyes wide open. Be open to listen to others who have been there, done that, and listen to as many people as you can from as many companies as you can. Take in all the good and bad and do your own thinking. A smart kid would have talked and discussed with practising neurosurgeons if he was serious in wanting to study neurosurgery and become a brain doctor, wouldn't he? So what's the diff if you're serious about going into business?

That's where I sometimes wonder why people shut network marketers up, shun them and object before they can even explain their intentions. Network marketers tend to bear the brunt of the bad image the industry has received from the unethical, unscrupulous practices of some bad apples. It's something unavoidable but manageable.

Having said that, I feel that those who haven't the slightest inkling or experience with this type of business should be more open. There's nothing to lose in getting more information. No one is pointing a gun to your head to say you must do the business. But in many cases, when one is approached and asked if he/she would be open to simply listening to a new business idea, most times, the person's mind immediately puts up a wall with the notion that it's a hardsell to get them to jump into the business and get cheated.

Most of us have been conditioned that our life evolves from going to school, getting a degree and then a good job and earning a high salary and you've got it made to retire rich and happy. Not quite right. More millionaires and billionaires have emerged from doing their own businesses compared to those who rose from the ranks in employee-dom. And a majority of those in employee-dom who are millionaires are so not because of their great salaries dished out by their businessmen bosses, but from their extra-curricular pursuits in some investment/business or other.

So, having said all this, be a businessperson or employee? I'd say do your own business unless you have a super-unique talent or skill like Michael Jackson (his idiosyncrasies aside). If you have lots of money, start a business that is expandable as your experience and capacity to grow it expands. If you don't have lots of money but still want to venture into business, the network marketing industry is one of many options. But like any business venture, big or small, you can make or break. The difference is how resilient, focused, determined, disciplined you are in chasing that dream, no matter what it takes.

That's where you differentiate the Protons from the Rolls Royces. It's the quality of your inner self that plays a part in determining how high you reach and how far you go, not only in business per se, but in life. I'm sure everyone who has a brain already knows that lah...

Cooking

I cook almost everyday except for weekends. I enjoy cooking, trying out new recipes from books or online or concocting my own. Sometimes I find cooking fun, sometimes therapeutic but sometimes a chore. Today, I totally have no idea what to cook for dinner tonight and it feels like a chore having to search inside my fridge and freezer and figure out what I can do with those items in there.

I actually have a daily meal plan to make life easier. I'm supposed to cook spaghetti bolognese and celery and mushrooms tonight. The easiest menu for the week but I'm getting tired of the meal plan and don't feel like following it today. Time to change the meal plan I guess.

It's times like this that I dream of being super rich and have a Michelin chef at my disposal or own a jet to fly me to Paris for a Seine river dinner cruise.

Dreams can come true actually. Many people have realised their dreams. They have firstly dared to dream and then acted on it. Keyword here is 'acted'....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kung Fu Panda performer



Invitation


This is a banner hung at a traffic light junction (I believe without permit from the city council) somewhere near where I live. It's an invitation to the public from a 'mamak' shop nearby in conjuction with its opening.

The English text reads "Everyone was invite to feast...". Hmm, is it Manglish or Mamak-glish?

"Let us make you smile"

I don't know about other countries but in Malaysia, in order to own/drive a car, you need to insure your car and pay road tax. And the road tax sticker issued to your car after you prove you have car insurance, must be displayed specifically on the lower left corner of your windshield.

I received a letter from my car insurance company today giving notice three months ahead of the expiry of my insurance policy in February 2009. This means very soon, I will have to cough up some money to pay them the insurance premium. What's funny is that on the front of the envelope, they've printed this picture.


Yeah, right, let them make me smile? How can I smile when I have to part with my money? Ha ha, very funny...