Inspiration – Transformation

Every now and then, we all get inspired by reading or watching people around us who have achieved great things, sometimes beyond imagination. That is wonderful and we celebrate the moment. We leave that page with a sense of awe. But that’s it, we leave that page. How many of us would act on the inspiration and get going? What does the inspiration do for you other than the feel-good feeling?

When was the last time you were inspired and used that inspiration to fuel the energy in you to do likewise? How has that inspiration transpired? What transformed?

Just last month, my dad who has slight difficulties in walking started exercising. It has been a long drawn plan to get him to exercise. I am not sure what finally sparked that other than under doctor’s advice, but he finally took the step to use the equipments at a lush exercise corner, a stone’s throw from where he lives.

One day when we were walking home from the train station, he said he wanted to exercise. He invited me to come and see the various exercise equipments and even demonstrated how to use them. He urged me to have a go. I was both amazed and amused by his enthusiasm. It has been months, no, I should say years that he did some active exercising.

I asked him what was the outcome of the exercises. He replied gleefully that his legs do not hurt anymore and he now walks pretty well. It was easy to see where his motivation was coming from that he is now a regular feature at the exercise park! I was inspired by him and told him there is a small gym where I live. He encouraged me to go try it out when I got home.

So the journey began with the buying of new sports shoes and within a week, me, the gym novice decided it was my call to action. I prefer exercising outdoors but in this blustery, cold winter season, the balmy indoors was a big draw. I started slow and easy and by the third visit was ready to charge. The fourth visit confirmed my eagerness to return to the stationery bike, paddling away to happiness. The after effects of exercise need not be said, I not only have a feeling of accomplishment but was also invigorated.

My father has been an inspiration to me on many counts and this recent one where I emulated his example to exercise at the gym is the latest of being transformed after being inspired.


The Passing of a Leader

It is with great sadness to learn that Singapore’s first prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away peacefully this morning at 3.18am. Though I come across many world leaders and famous people who have died from the late Princess Diana to Nelson Mandela to Malcolm Fraser, reading about their great work and good deeds, none has come closer to my life that Mr Lee. Having lived in Singapore under his prime ministership, the people in Singapore have witnessed the change in a little red dot to a prosperous nation it is today.

Leaders have their strengths and weaknesses and in many cases it is through their strengths that things happen. Mr Lee was no exception. He was a leader with foresight and with his vision for transformation, the blueprints were made real. Even at that time, some ideas looked far fetch and radical, yet it was for the better. Great leaders show compassion and relate to the people; Mr Lee interacted with the commoners, led with his head and heart.

Mr Lee was a leader of leaders. He had a team of old guards who together worked to discuss, debate and sought to bring a better life than poverty to the people. Their problem solving skills were put to the test and with courage and perseverance, got day-to-day issues sorted out and moved from firefighting mode to one of innovation.

Taking a leaf out of history, reflecting on leadership, what have you learnt from Mr Lee? What kind of leader are you today? What kind of leader will you be tomorrow? Are you courageous enough to take the risks and stand out to be counted? Will you take the bold step from your comfort zone and lead the pack? Do you realise your dreams with actions? What difference will you make? What legacy are you leaving?

Thank you, Mr Lee for what you have done in nation building. As the people on the little red dot grieve, we bid farewell to a world class leader. Good-bye Mr Lee and may you rest in peace.


The Gift of Giving

December seems to be the favourite month of the year for many people I know. Oh well, of course second to their birth months. That puts them into a relaxing mood with the year winding down and festivities round the corner. The gift giving and merry making brings the season to a crescendo. No wonder December is a hot favourite.

Gift exchange is a big thing among friends, family members and colleagues. Some live in a quandary thinking of what to buy, sticking to a reasonable budget and others are pressed for time, having to get them wrapped before the exchange takes place.

Needless to say, gift giving spins the whole retail business which begins in late October even before November sets in. It seems to get earlier and earlier. But hold it, what is the true meaning of giving beyond material comforts?

My favourite quote on giving comes from Mother Teresa: “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” That rings true when we spend time searching for the most appropriate item, thinking of what the person needs or wants. In these days where de-cluttering is in, we do not want gifts that add to the pile.

Some gifts are so simple that the love shines through and has nothing to do with the monetary value but the emotions that comes with it. Time and patience to get that gift sums it up, not to mention the delightful smile, a reward for a gift so befitting. This brings on the next quote: “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” ― Amy Wilson-Carmichael

When we truly give, not merely in things but also in time, thoughts and love, we experience a deeper sense of the meaning.  The last quote from St Francis of Assisi sums it up, “For it is in giving that we receive.”

Thus spare a thought for the gifts you are about to give and receive, sit back and enjoy the true meaning of giving.

Merry Christmas!


Option: Trick or Treat?

Option: Trick or Treat?

Option: Changes?

Change. What does it mean? According to the dictionary, it says, “to transform, to convert”. The dictionary continues with its verb form, changing to mean “to become different or to be altered or modified.” How do you see change?

Change can be a scary word to some. It brings on the unknown and at times fear sets in for the unexpected, the inability to control the situation. Some find it unsettling and even put a negative connotation to it.

Change can also be welcomed. A move in position, a substitute for something, a change of scene, a break from the norm. A whole new dimension or a shift in gear.

Change – so what meaning does it hold for you? Do you embrace or flee from it? What changes have taken place in your life? Are you in the same old regime day in and out? Are you doing the same job as you did for years? Is your fashion style or even hair style/make-up the same as it was in the last 2-3 years? Are you only hanging out with the same circle of people? Have you tried a different route to work/school/home …? Are you reading books of the same category or author?

Change can open doors. Though it has its risks, it is also a new beginning, a movement from one plane to another, a breath of fresh air. It need not be big, it can be small. Some people are willing to make changes in one area but not another. For instance they take a different vacation each year but fall into the same routine daily, living the same way as they did for years. Some changes have have a profound effect that transforms a person or situation. Are you willing to take the chance to try something different? Do you allow yourself to be flexible and open to changes? If moving on/forward/side way means a better you, a better tomorrow, will you take that first step? Think of what the future looks or feels like with change, even if it is subtle. What opportunities await you?

Change can be accidental or planned. Which is yours? Are you your greatest change agent?

So ask yourself today: Are you up to the same old tricks or would you like a new treat? What changes do you want in your life? The options are yours: trick or treat?


Attempting Something New

Was there ever a time when you think you are unable to do something and yet did? It can be truly amazing, isn’t it?

Just three weeks ago, a new project landed on my feet. It was too good a chance to miss and it was another exciting journey in my professional life. The content of the subject was not difficult and something I have enjoyed over the years, reading, researching and doing, always trying to better my skills. However, this time round, part of the project required me to draw. Draw?

Yes, I have drawn … more like doodles and noodles. But draw something recognisably good enough for a class? Mmm, I had to think about it. But passing up the chance of working with a wonderful team and mentor became too great to miss. I decided to press on. Did quite a bit of research on how to draw from the internet and books. Then I set out to practise and practise and practise. More practise. My pencils got shorter and eraser got smaller.

By the time I hit the 50th sketch, I was almost a quarter way there. Then I needed to add in colours. The next step set in. Things were coming to shape. I sent my amateur work for critique. “Cute” was the polite first reply. My second attempt came back with, “Improved”. Diligently, I continued.

By now, I have decided to go for a formal class to raise my competency level with better understanding of techniques. Actually I have always wanted to attend such a class. What better time than now? Looking back, attempting something new is not so daunting after all. What seems ridiculous initially start to take shape when heart and mind are in one place, the possibilities are endless. I am glad I did. It is another “talent” to nurture and keep it as a hobby.

So what’s new that you would like to attempt and yet stop in your tracks? What’s stopping you? If it enriches your life, will you have a go? Soon?


Do Something for the First Time

Today while I was looking at pins on Pinterest, I came across an interesting quote, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” When we get bogged down with the humdrum of daily living, doing the same old, same old, and it becomes a predictable routine. Where does that lead us to?

For the past several weeks, I have been inundated with new projects. On the surface, they looked easy. But having gone through the initial steps, I realised there was more than meets the eye. There were areas I needed to update and in other areas to learn new stuff.

I set upon looking out for relevant courses to attend since I am back in Melbourne where creativity is embraced. The classes fitted my schedule and there, off I went. One weekend was spent on an “Introduction to Drawing” class, something I have always wanted to do. At the start of the class, I was kind of anxious; my mind was filled with uncertainty. I did not know what to expect. I have never been properly taught how to draw and now is the time to pick that up. The art teacher was amazing and very encouraging, make learning a breeze. Using new media and playing with materials was liberating. By the end of the class, the progress made within that few hours was obvious … well, it was bad to start with in the first place! Both the teacher and I were pleased with the results and I walked out on cloud 9.

The second class was an evening workshop on bridal floristry. This was more like an update session for me. Filled with anticipation, I entered the class to be greeted by the owner of the shop. Her creativity was apparent in the way her shop was presented. We wasted no time getting started with warm up activities and then moved on to the more serious stuff. The techniques picked up in getting the floral arrangement together were great and before we knew it, by the end of the session, we had beautifully arranged a bridal bouquet, corsage and boutonniere. Everyone was in high spirits, having achieved the skills to make such pretty things. We were unabashed raving at our own creations.

As I reflected upon the past weeks, I was glad I went for the classes pushed on by necessity for the projects I was engaged to do as a consultant. It was time I did new things that broke the routine. It added value to me both professionally and personally. Two items to tick off my bucket list. For the next six months, I shall be looking at things to do for the first time, something new. It is a path untrodden and may bring uncertainties but well worth exploring. It means stepping out of my comfort zone.The experience releases a newness within and looking at things with fresh eyes. 

So when was the last time you did something for the first time?  Are you willing to get out of your comfort zone? Will you taking for first step to doing that soon?


Which Wolf Will You Feed?

This morning, the first Saturday in 2014, the sun was shining in a clear blue sky. It evoked a feeling of new opportunities with renewed strength, a new beginning. Saturdays are one of my favourite days and today I thought I would sit and finish writing my plans for this year having time to mull over them in the last couple of weeks.

Going through the files in my laptop, I come across a story. This is how it goes:

An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.” The boy thought about it and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.” (Author unknown)

This story came at the right moment. Looking back in the year that has just gone by, which of the two wolves inside you dominated?  Were you confronted by anger or joy? Were there moments of jealousy, resentment instead of peace, love and kindness? Were there days where inferiority took over?

While putting together a plan for the future, how would you steer forward for a better tomorrow? What would be in your plans that promote possibilities over fear? What would you do to put forth the Good Wolf? Do your plans have safeguard measures to ensure they stay positive? What happens when things do not ride well, would these measures be sufficient to pull you through?

Back to my drawing board, I start to look at my plans with new eyes. Plans that make me a better person. Plans that bring sunshine and plans that touch lives. I have a choice. It is obvious which wolf I choose to feed. What about you?




When we meet friends whom we have not seen for a long time, we often ask, “How are you?” with a concern on their well being. The most frequent answer heard, “I have been busy.” Everyone seems busy … all the time. I hardly get to meet someone who is relatively free. People are occupied all the time, almost like 24/7 and if you are out free, you stand out and people wonder what have you wasted your time on!

How do we make time? Can time be made? Are we ahead or behind it? We often run out of it. We lose it. Yet we are given 24hours each, rich or poor,  it is the same dose every day. What you make out of it is really up to you. How you want to stretch it depends on your creativity. It can go to waste, too.

What meaning do you attach to time? Is time of value to you? To the businessman, time is money. To an Olympic runner, a mere few seconds make a great difference to the gold medal. To a child, getting to the destination seems like hours. To the cancer patient, every day is a miracle. Time is precious. The clock ticks on where time and tide waits for no man. True.

As the world spins, time slips out as in an hourglass. Are you time tight? How do you manage your time? Or does it manage you? Look around you. Do you see pockets of time you could use? The waiting time, the lull periods, the in-betweens? What do you do?

Clever usage of time needs to be planned. Having designated blocks of time to get things done is one way. Focusing on priorities and giving it the important time slots mean we get key things out of the way. That includes things we dread to do.

To get some extra time, I started off today by waking up an hour earlier. There was much I could do and I did. Things that were put on the back burner came out first and completed in a shorter time frame than I expected. I was elated. I did things faster than I usually do and the change in schedule made the difference because the routine was re-routed and I did things on a fresh footing. That helped.

When we do things we love, we get immersed and time cease to exist. It flies through the window. We are in the time zone. The danger comes when we do not know when to stop as the enjoyment gets exhilarating. That accounts for us being late, delayed work in other aspects, missed deadlines and pushing things back. We need to take a step back to re-focus.

Having a planner to craft out the time zones for work and play makes a lot of sense and yet most people do not do it. Use a planner to see where your time went to and how you can make the most of it. Look at it and ask: Are there things you could cut down? Are there things you could increase? Are there things you can do away or delegate?

It takes effort to make changes and save time when you can. Do you want to do it? What do you see as the end result of having it done? Does it motivate you sufficiently to have the change? It all comes back to the meaning you attach to time. If it is important enough to you, the change will be made. Be time wise.


The Road Less Travelled

It has been a forced situation where circumstances dictate that I do it differently this time. For years I have avoided driving by myself to the west part of this sunny island. Why? The excuse was that I do not know the way and it is a labyrinth of factories in an industrial estate with heavy vehicles plying the roads. If I am ever there it has been my colleagues, my partner or some family member who drove. Otherwise I take the train.

Just this week, I had to visit a client tucked in that corner of the earth. I love to work with them and there is no way I am going to pass up the chance of another enjoyable project exploring new territories together. This avoiding business just had to stop.

I checked the map on how to get there and made sure I have my bearings right. I know what you must be whispering … hey, use the GPS. Well, this car when purchased did not come with it and I have lived without one for eons, so why bother? All done, I was ready to go solo on this so called road trip.

It was some road trip. I got lost in the urban jungle of the industrial estate. It was not my way or the highway, it was stop and turn back before I go any further. Fuming at myself for my mistake, I had to check for directions. Then I am off again, finally making it to my destination in one piece.

Looking back, it was not as hard as I thought. It was all in my mind. I will have to visit my client again with the project underway. Will I drive? Yes, I will. What was it that stopped me from driving there all these years? It is some perception I have in my head that the drive there is complicated and difficult. If I had conquered my doubts, I would have enjoyed the suburban precincts with the new malls and amenities. What have I missed?

What is in your life that you have similarly avoided? Could an opportunity come where you can take charge and make the change to embrace it? I have and now I wonder what took me so long. Come to think of it, perhaps I should consider investing in a GPS device. Then I am all ready to travel to the four corners of the earth and take the road less travelled. What about you?



Lots of us are guilty as procrastinators one time or other. What has been gnawing at you and that you have put off for some time ? And really, you know the consequences when you hold back too long.

Just recently, I had to visit the dental clinic. Admittedly, it is not one of my favourite places. I dread going to the dentist. It is nothing personal about the dentist, in fact my old, regular dentist has retired recently and I was thinking of switching to another one. 

At the back of my mind, I knew the visit had been long overdue. When the cavity started to trouble me, it seemed like I have no choice. If only it was that easy to take a panadol to rid it, unfortunately the tooth ache required special attention. It has hit a raw nerve, so to speak, costing me sleepless nights. Thus an appointment had to be made real soon. Sigh.

What has held me back from going for my regular checks and the much needed scaling? Thinking back it must have been the experience in my early years when I had my dental treatment at a dental hut of my primary school.  I saw the hauling up from class to this little consultation room as a dreaded time that sent shivers down my spine. The mere a sound of the drilling machine would set me running a mile away. I have associated the dental treatment with fear, an anxiety attack.

Going through the dental treatment was not as bad as I thought though it was certainly not a trip to Disneyland. I survived. The new dental clinic I visited had state of the art dental equipment and a TV screen to entertain me, calmed my already frayed nerves. The dentist and his assistant were very professional and reassuring.

What are the cavities in your life that need fixing? Is there anything that you feel you ought to do but have yet to get started? What is holding you back? What do you associate the experience with? What are you moving away from? Take a little time to uncover the answers to these questions and then ask yourself what benefits you when the experience is over?

For me, I have decided to add more value to my set of teeth that will see me through to the rest of my life and it had better start now. The next time you see me, I shall flash you a  smile and with a sparkle in my tooth, you’ll know that I had that gold filling done! : )