Monday, October 29, 2012

Power of Choice, Power of Change - 24 October 2012

Reon Schutte and Billy Kueek
“We may not be able to choose our circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond,” - Reon Schutte.

I attended a talk at SDCC recently, featuring Reon Schutte and NLP Master Trainer Dr. Billy Kueek. Reon who, you asked? Reon Schutte is a former South African POW, and cancer survivor, and he was in the country to share his compelling story about his incarceration in the notorious Chikurubi Prison in Zimbabwe, as well as his fight with prostate cancer during imprisonment.

Let me be very honest with you here. I have never attended any talk, of any speaker, in my whole life. In fact, I have never once, attended any self help/personal development seminar nor workshop in my life. The NLP Associate Training workshop which I signed up for in July 2012, was my first ever personal development workshop, and was on my own account.

So why did I choose to listen to Reon? Well, to start, over the last few months (second half of the year to be exact), I've been going through a rocky patch in my life. A lot of things have occurred, and the timing of things hasn't been all that great. I've been feeling very sad, depressed, angry, disappointed, bitter at myself. I've actually lost track of my own desires, and have been very very doubtful with all my decisions and actions.

I've fallen down pretty hard, and I didn't know how to get back up. I had no one to talk to (aside from my hubby), simply because no one would be able to comprehend the situations I was going through. I kept things to myself, also because I chose to keep things to myself. It was something for me to overcome, my own struggle with myself. My close girl friend was in the loop of things, and has suggested that maybe I should attend this Reon Schutte talk, but I brushed it off at first, as I needed some alone time to myself for a while.

I felt so broken, so crushed by the weight of things, I have been in tears several times in the night. My hubby was my strongest supporter, always there to calm me down and to bring me back to my senses when I drifted away (sometimes too realistic to the point I feel worse). It came to a point I thought I needed to seek out a therapist, to help me cope with my emotions. And so I emailed my close girl friend for some contacts, and along the trails of emails, she brought the question up about going with her to the Reon Schutte talk again. And this time I gave it some thoughts.

I figured, I could listen to someone who was stronger than me, who had lived through excruciating pain and suffering, and was now travelling around the world sharing his story in the hopes of inspiring others to be stronger. I figured, I needed that sort of external strength, to give me the strength that I'm seeking at this point in my life. Then perhaps, I can figure out my own life, what I want from it, and how I want to measure my life.

Reon Schutte speaking at SDCC.
To summarize things, Reon Schutte is a former POW, and was sentenced to Chikurubi Prison in Zimbabwe for 26 years. He described the cell as horrifying, cramming 50 men in a cell made for 11. Four walls, no windows, and a hole for a toilet. His only possessions at the time of imprisonment, were a pair of shorts, a shirt, and blankets infested with lice.

During his incarceration, he and his cell mates had to endure daily beatings, stale rotten food, diseases and unhygienic conditions. Mortality rate at that time was 10%. Imagine living in a cell 24/7, with no contact to the outside world. To add to the life of a prisoner, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. A support group had formed in South Africa, lobbying for his release year after year, and under tremendous pressure, he was given medical attention. However, due to the terrible living conditions in the prison, infections occurred and he had to endure several more surgeries.

I can't possibly comprehend his emotions, and yet Reon wasn't bitter about his horrible experience. In fact, I think he came across as peaceful, he had found peace within himself. And it's something I'm looking for inside myself... Peace within myself. Some of the words from Reon resonated inside me, and I'm beginning to digest them, so that I can then figure out for myself, what I want to do, what my choices are, and how I am going to respond.

Image taken from Reonschutte.com
When he was thrown into prison, South Africa had no internet, no mobile phones, no DVDs or CDs, none of the technology which we have today. So when it came to the Q&A part, I asked Reon how is he readjusting to society and everything around him. He reply was that, even though he is now back into society, he is not from it. He is still readjusting, even after 8 years of release.

I also bought Reon's book, to read a little more about this life, and to see what I can gain from his principles.

There's a short video on his website, taken two days after his release. Click here to view it, to get a better picture of Reon's story.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Of Purpose and Measurements

This morning was tough on me. And as much as I enjoy talking and sharing with you, the realistic and pragmatic words from you somehow only made me feel even more sorry for myself. I know you're trying to help me realign my life, and hoping that you can help me find my purpose. it's just that the words and the way you presented them to me, somehow isn't resonating well. I admire your traits of being factual, it's just not bringing me much value at the moment.

I know what the facts are. I know realistically what would entail. I don't really need another person to remind me what is fact and what is real. I just needed someone who would let me rant it all out, and offer me a kind shoulder to lean on for a while, without offering to judge my words and actions. You telling me what I already know, somehow only made me feel more sorry for myself. And I'm trying very hard not to let that affect me, to take charge of my life.

It wasn't fair to me when you say I still cannot accept what had happened. That is not true, that much I can tell you. I have already come to accept the loss. I have already come to accept that my initial purpose died that day in September. I just need time to emotionally heal, is that too much to ask? I can't switch things off the way you do, you are wired differently from me. I am not blaming anyone nor myself anymore. For you to say that I haven't accepted the loss, those words were not fair to me. I didn't deserve those words, not one bit. Please don't say those words to me again, you have hurt my feelings.

My struggle now is not about accepting the loss, I have already accepted it and I am already pass that. My struggle now is finding a purpose. Finding who I want to become. What is my intent? What is my likeness, my commitment, my metrics? How do I want to measure myself? How do I want to measure my life?

Over the last few weeks, I have come to also realize, that I have made a mark in some people's lives, something which I didn't come to notice at first, because I didn't think much of it. Then I started thinking back, on the feedback which I had received from some good friends, and from you.

I have learnt that I am everything to you. I have learnt that I have given you everything. I also learnt that I have been the inspiration to a small group of people in my life, directly or indirectly. Just the other day, a friend who had completed her first 10K run,  tweeted to me that it was because of me, she was inspired to run her first 10K. I didn't realize how, but her words lifted my spirits and put a smile to my face. And I thank you for saying those kinds words to me Sofia (I have yet to complete my first 10K run though, a nonstop run, had to stop training due to knee & internal/emotional injury). My close girl friend confides in me and relies on me to keep her grounded about the important things in life. My sister who lives in a different state relies on my support, mentally and emotionally. I have to start seeing that I am a good person, and have in one way or another, inspired the people around me to be a better person, no matter how small my contribution may be. I have to start being kinder to myself, to acknowledge that I too am capable of making a difference, however small.

"While many of us might default to measuring our lives by summary statistics, such as number of people presided over, number of awards, or dollars accumulated in a bank, and so on, the only metrics that will truly matter in my life are the individuals whom I have been able to help, one by one, to become better people." - Prof. Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Business School

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cat

I peed on my owner! Was too scared to leave the house!

The vet sez I is gained 500 grams. W00t!

Need I say more? :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

BSN Putrajaya Night Run 2012

BSN Putrajaya Night Marathon 2012. Are you ready people?? from hooHA asia on Vimeo.

Was with hubby and his colleagues at Putrajaya, to support them (as well as be their bag keeper, harhar!). Good thing the weather held up well, no rain, some light breeze with low humidity. I was quite surprised to discover that this event was so huge... 10,000 runners!

The event flagged off at 8pm, for the 42KM category first. Followed by the 21KM, 10KM and 5KM fun run. Well done everyone!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Guide To Life (in 10 steps)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Go...


Kick start. Yes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Doubts


Doubts. Have been having them for the past several weeks. Have spoken to two very close people in my life, and ironically, they both came to a conclusion of an action plan I should consider. I'm toying with the idea as we speak.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nostalgic Klang Noodles

When my grandfather (on my dad's side) was still alive, my dad would bring us down to Klang to visit him. My grandfather was from China, and he made his living selling herbal tea (leong char). I remember when we were young, my dad would take us to this old food court somewhere in Klang town, where the herbal stall was located. Next to the herbal stall, was this stall selling noodles with minced pork.

There was something about this minced pork noodles which made it different from all pork noodles. The flavour especially, was very special. The last time I had this dish, was before my grandfather passed away. After that, the family didn't make trips down to Klang anymore, and I didn't get to eat this dish for over a decade. The old food court has also undergone some transformation, and I think the stall has also moved to some place else.

Then, just last week, my mum called hubby and I for dinner, and also because she wanted to check out the Setia Citymall (H&M, to be specific). We hopped into my dad's 4WD and he drove to Meru, Klang for dinner. Something about noodles, which I didn't give much thought about. As we sat down in the kopitiam, my dad and hubby went to place orders, while I chat with my mum. I asked her what was so special about this place and its noodles, that my dad would make a trip here.

"Do you remember when you were young, when your grandfather was alive, we would have this noodles and drink leong char after that?"

"Yea, what about the noodle stall? Its been years since I lasted tasted it."

"Well, this is the same stall, with the same noodles *smile*"

No way, I thought. Could this actually be the same noodle stall from when I was a kid? My dad reiterated that it is the same stall, only this time it's run by one of the offspring of the founder. Not only that, they now have three stalls in Klang town itself. The kopitiam we were at, was Restoran Pin Chou, off Jalan Meru.

It's something you can't find in Petaling Jaya.
My first bite, brought back a lot of childhood memories. The taste was very very familiar, reminiscence of my younger days sitting on a stool in the old food court with dim lights, slurping the noodles delicately with my chopsticks. This was a taste I had not had in over a decade, and yet my mind is able to recapture the past moments, something which had been long buried in the back of my head, almost forgotten.

Nostalgic noodles, I just had them :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

I Died A Little That Day

Image taken from Inmagine.com
The picture was fuzzy.
And yet very clear.
One big mass of nothingness.
A sense of void and emptiness.
Like an empty vessel sailing through the tides.
A heavy weight on my shoulders.
The feeling was all too familiar..
Things have come to an end.
I leave with a heavy heart.
Lying down on the bed.
And the last thing I saw was the ceiling.
I died a little that day.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Snippets Of Cameron Highlands October 2012

A short getaway with the hubby, one which we needed badly. Despite it being short, we had fun :) It was quite a struggle for me to come back to reality, a reality which I didn't want to face all that much. But I know I cannot run from it for long.

Upon reaching Strawberry Park Resort, the mist had engulfed the  hills. Sejukz!

A view taken from one of the many Brinchang hills.

Fresh strawberries from one of the many farms.
This farm is located in one of the hills near the Palas Boh Tea Plantation.

Mid-afternoon snacks, scones and crepes.

Flowers always bloom so beautifully in Cameron Highlands.

Taken somewhere near Blue Valley, where most of the farms are located.
This terrace of vegetables (water cress, I reckon) was pretty amazing. 
This picture above, as we both discovered, was also featured by Strawberry Park Resort, as part of their tour excursion for tourists. The photo they were using was much older though, the terrace wasn't that full of plantation and the hills didn't have that much greenery then.

The bloody tourist that I am, got myself a pillow :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mid-Autumn Festival @ Sg Petani, Kedah

Spent mid-autumn festival in Sg Petani this year, which was really a timing factor, as we needed to be back in Sg Petani to conduct some prayers for hubby's late mum. 

The surprising info I got from his siblings was that every year, during mid-autumn festival, the locals will flock to a local park, light candles all over the park and release Kung Ming lanterns to commemorate the festival. His siblings then asked hubby to bring me to the park to catch a glimpse of it all, and the funny part was that hubby didn't know that such an occurrence even existed in his kampung -_-" (a bit fail, I know!).

Children and adults lighting candles along the walkways.
So after dinner with the family, hubby drove to the nearby park, known as Taman Jubli Perak. It was crowded with people from all walks of life. Both children and adults were holding paper lanterns, lighting candles along the sidewalks, on trees, benches, candles were placed everywhere! Talked about having the permission to play with fire!

Light the way...!
Kung Ming lanterns preparing to float into the night skies of Sg Petani.
One of the main highlights in the park was definitely the Kung Ming lanterns. There were a couple of guys selling them for between RM 5 to RM 10 (depending on the size of the lanterns), and many people were buying them.

Kung Ming lanterns are very pretty, although a potential hazard to air crafts if they soar too high. The concept of the lantern is just like the hot air balloon, only for the Kung Ming lantern, it will stay afloat until the flames go out, after which the lantern will just fall back to the ground (on other words, littering happens). Another danger of the lantern is that it might catch fire and fall onto someone's roof or crops, or some innocent passerby's head. So, as pretty as the lantern is, I don't really want to contribute to the statistic. Still, it's very pretty to see so many lanterns afloat in the night sky :)


Lanbogni!
Oh, I wanted to showcase this funky mobile phone too. It's a Lambogni (Lamborghini) mobile phone, don't play-play! And if you're not into Lambogni, there's also the Ferrari model :P

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2012

Pink says it all. Ladies, take care of your breasts.

Image taken from here.

If...


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Mobile Phone History

I was having a casual conversation with a colleague the other day, and the topic was about mobile phones. And I suddenly had a reminiscent of my own mobile phone progression. Here's a little story about it :)

Image taken from here.
My very first mobile phone, the tough Nokia 5110. If I remember correctly, this was the very first model from Nokia with inter-changeable casing. Super colourful, super cute, super funky. I got this phone after a few months of starting my first job  back in 1999, saved up quite a bit to afford buying it (no *FAMA to help me out).

I remember making a date with a close friend of mine, to get to a mobile phone shop somewhere in 1Utama (way before the new wing was built). I had already inquired in advance the price of the phone and package (pre-paid), and had planned a few months to save money to get the phone. I think it was a about RM 800, for the phone + pre-paid line. This was probably my most expensive purchase in all the years, and this phone was with me for a good 4 years+.

Image taken from here.
The Nokia 8250 was my second phone. Who could forget this beauty. The butterfly keypads at the centre was the main attraction, coupled with a sleek body and blue screen. I was working in Phileo at the time this phone was launched, and I recall a colleague of mine being one of the first few to purchase this device, at a cost of over RM 1,300. Ouch! I couldn't afford such a high price tag, let a lone for a phone, so I waited for about a year, for the price to drop to a more affordable range (probably in the year 2003?). I got the AP set, which was cheaper than the original distribution.

I recall even customizing a ringtone for this phone, using the keypads to compose the ringtone XP It was the theme song from Smurf ^.^ Laugh if you must, those were fun times. After a while, I even changed the front casing of the to a gold-ish one. Managed to get a good discount from my then bf's (now husband) brother, who was (and still is) operating a mobile phone shop. This device was with me for another 4 years+

Image taken from here.
My third phone was the Samsung D820, sleek and handsome slide phone. Something about this phone caught my attention, maybe it's the masculinity LOL! I had been hunting for a new phone for a while, as my Nokia 8250 was going bonkers and suffering from very weak battery life. During those years, Nokia phone designs were kinda crappy, and as much as I wanted to stick to Nokia due to its sturdiness, it was fated that I would make the jump to a Korean brand.

A friend of mine, who's brother was in the mobile phone business, could help me get the Samsung D820 at a slightly cheaper price (no AP sets available for Samsung phones, bummer), and that was to be my most expensive mobile phone ever, about RM 1,100. Never the less, after a while of using it, I was pleased with the phone and it was serving its purpose, despite some glitches here and there. This phone would follow me for another 4 years+

Image taken from here.
Since February 2011, I've crossed over to 'the dark side' apparently, switching to an iPhone 4 after a lengthy thought process and much consideration done. I was also looking to get a new phone as my Samsung D820 was experiencing a lot of old-age problems: The slider was having problems, some internal parts are breaking down, and the battery was zapping away. After much shopping and reading of reviews, hubby decided to get me the iPhone 4, and switched my pre-paid number to a post-paid. Yes, I was on a pre-paid line for the longest time, simply because my usage wasn't much, and I had little issues with it.

This phone is currently the most expensive phone in my life haha! And it's still going strong, except now that iOS 6 is out, seems to be draining the battery a little faster than I'd like, no more Google Maps, and my auto-lock function is not working as it should... 

*FAMA - Father And Mother Account a.k.a parental financial assistance.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

NOM!

Image taken from here.
Strawberries are a fantastic source of Vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and dietary fiber. And of course they're fat, sodium and cholesterol-free plus the strawberry is one of nature's most powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer substances. What a beautiful food, nutritious as well as delicious!

Excerpt from Strawberry Park Resort, Cameron Highlands's Facebook page.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Braised Pork Belly In Sweet Sauce

Hubby and I attempted to make this dish, after catching an episode of 8TV's 'Hot Chef Getaways Season 2', where the chefs and the TV programme host would go to different parts of the country and visit homes of different families, who would introduce a variety of dishes and local family favourites.

In one episode, the aunty had introduced braised pork belly (it's not char siew), and the ingredients and steps were pretty simple. So we both figured, let's give it a shot. After catching the repeat episode on Tonton, we decided to find one weekend to try making the dish. Problem was, the episode did not state the ingredients portions, so I had to roughly estimate (agak-agak lah).

Ingredients
600 grams 3 layer pork belly
2 tbps cooking oil
1 tbps garlic (finely minced)
1 tbps onions/shallots (finely minced) > we made a boo-boo and forgot this ingredient
5 slices galangal (blue ginger)
2 tbps rock sugar
2 tbps dark (caramel) soy sauce 
1 1/2 tbps oyster sauce
1 tps 5 spice powder 
Water (to submerge the pork during braising)
A dash of white pepper
Hard boiled eggs (optional)

Blanch the pork in hot water for a few minutes, to get rid of the musky smell. Pat dry and set aside. Heat up a wok and coat it with oil, add the garlic and onions, and stir fry until aromatic. In our first attempt, we forgot to get the onions/shallots, so our first try was without this ingredient. 

Add the rock sugar, 5 spice powder, pepper, oyster sauce and dark soy sauce, and allow the rock sugar to caramelize. Next, add the water and bring to boil. Place the blanched pork belly into the wok and bring to boil on high heat for 15 minutes. We made a mistake by not pouring enough water to submerge the pork completely (only covered half), so half way during the cooking process, I had to readjust the water level a little. Note to self: Next attempt, ensure water covers pork completely.

Braising the pork belly in medium-low heat.
See how the sauce thickens and you get a lovely shiny coat.
Bring to boil at high heat for 15 minutes, then adjust to medium-low heat, and simmer for another 30mins, and  on the last minutes, bring the heat back to high for another 10-5 minutes. This simmering step is according to the TV programme. However, during our first attempt, we had to adjust because we had miscalculated the water level, and also because the gravy had thickened after 30 minutes of slow simmering. As cooking is a lot of trial and error, I suggest you tweak accordingly.

One step which I will omit the next time I make this dish: *DO NOT PUT HARD BOILED EGGS TO  BRAISE WITH PORK. I don't know how the aunty did it without the hard boiled eggs turning hard while braising. Also, I don't know what happened nor can I explain it, but when I shut the flames after the sauce thickened, one of the hard boiled eggs exploded and popped out from the wok, landing on the kitchen counter with a splat. Talk about a kitchen mess :/

*Updated: Learnt a new trick to ensure the hard boiled egg doesn't harden up during the braising process. Leave the eggs in their shells, just crack the shell a bit, kinda like the herbal egg method.

The final outcome...
Here's the final outcome and verdict. The sauce consistency and flavour was quite ok, sweet and flavourful (goes well with white flower buns, noms), so I guess my estimation for the sugar, dark soy sauce and oyster sauce is passable. As for the meat texture, I think it's because we didn't submerge the pork completely during the first round of simmering, so the meat wasn't as tender as we had anticipated. Also, because this is 3 layer pork, the skin wasn't as tender too, a little springy (Q-Q).

We will definitely attempt this recipe again over the weekend, to try to perfect it. Must remember to submerge the pork completely in water, and slowly braise it until tender.