Birthday

 

This was me, same day last year.
Made a last minute-trip to Ubud, Bali.

The scene may be familiar to you.
Same neighbourhood, same place, same platform where Julia Roberts met Ketut Liyer in the movie Eat Pray Love.

That man in the photo is Kitet Liyer’s son. He told me I am a cheerful person. He said that there is so much love and so much of me that I could share in the world. I didn’t really pay much attention on what he said so I did not post these photos then. I did not share this story then.

But today, I want to be reminded of it. And perhaps with whatever and how limited and how little I have (time, presence, patience, knowledge, love), I try my best to share it to the Universe.

To borrow one quote I read recently, ‘I am pieces of all the places I have been, and the people I have loved. I’ve been stitched together by song lyrics, book quotes, adventure, late night conversations, moonlight and the smell of coffee.’

I am pieces of everything and everyone who had came across my life.

Thank you for remembering this day, your warm birthday greetings and all the acts of kindness and love.

May God reward your graciousness.

 

Keep Going

Well done. Keep going.

These were the cheers the runners received from the gracious crowd of Oxford during the Oxford Half Marathon race held last week.

‘Well done’ – an affirmation that what and how you have done so far is worth a recognition.

‘Keep going’ – an encouragement to press on, push on, and hold on, because what you are aspiring for is just around the corner.

Today, I remember and thank God for the people who have generously affirmed and encouraged me along my life’s journey. May I likewise give affirmation and encouragement especially when I fail to take notice, Amen.

 

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40684907_10156467313527660_1237524560677437440_nI accompanied Friend #1 in getting her prescription eyeglasses. Together with us, was Friend #2.

Friend #2 mostly wears contact lens but she said that whenever she wears eyeglasses, she prefers not to wear the exact prescription. She wanted her eyesight to be a bit blurred. She doesn’t want a clear vision.

I laughed and thought it was weird. But tonight, as I was reflecting on things that happened today, I thought maybe there is wisdom in what Friend #2 said.

Maybe, where I tend to look for perfection, where I tend to look for precision, where I tend to look for definition, I should sometimes allow things to be blurred. By then, I will be more forgiving, I will be more allowing and let my own shortcomings be a reminder that Someone up there is also forgiving and patient with me.

Goodnight, Monday. Even without seeing the fullness of things, there are always more than enough reasons to smile back to the universe. May God’s blessings be upon us, Amen.

How can I look at you and not smile?

26678288_10155870169722660_7419311971930827463_oI woke up today smiling.

It’s Saturday. It is the first weekend of the year.

I looked back at 2017 and though there were many mornings when all I wished was to get through the day, those days, whether it turned out to be good or bad, it added to the definition of the person I am today. How can I look at 2017 and not smile?

I remember good conversations (in person or through chats, emails, or letters) with family, with friends, with strangers, with some whom I dread speaking or spending time with, whether it turned out to be pleasant or not, it added to my wisdom and my understanding of relationships. How can I look at family, friends and colleagues and not smile?

I remember the places I visited, the travels I’ve made, the many attempts to take the perfect selfies, the sometimes senseless posts I’ve made on Instagram. Everything allowed me to know myself better, understand what makes me happy, what triggers inspiration within me, what are the things I want to chase and the things I want to run away from. How can I look at all these experiences and not smile?

I remember the times when I had intimate conversations with God but also the times when I was avoiding Him and didn’t want to reveal what’s in my heart, though I know He knows. I remember the moments when other things seemed more important, when I justify what I want rather than following His will. Despite this utterly childish behaviour, He continues to embrace and love me the way only He knows. How can I look at God and not be grateful and give my best smile?

There will be times that I will wake up not smiling. I will probably be sad, anxious, at times, probably even upset or angry. When that happens, I will remind myself to look back at everything that has been and I know I will never be able to look at my life and not smile.

For all of you who have made me smile and continue to give me reasons to smile, hope in my own little way, I also have given you the reason to smile. Thank you and may our gracious God bless you with grace-filled 2018.

Because you are worthy of my Best

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When I was in grade school, I joined quiz bee’s, declamation contests and other inter-school activities without telling my parents. I will only tell (and surprise) them when I already have the award to show. Those were the days when things are simple and all you cared for was to make special people in your life happy and proud. I know that every time I handed them those medals, my heart silently said, ‘Because you are worthy of my best.’

Then as we grow old, things become more difficult and complex. The enormous responsibility we carry on our shoulders are always weighing us down, we do things just because we have to do it and have quite forgotten the reason why we are doing these things in the first place.

I reflect on this because I am particularly dragging myself to do one task for many months. But last night, I resolved that I will do it not because I have to do it, but because the person who’s asking me to do it is someone I value. Because that person is worthy of my best.

When things become difficult, when tasks become a routine, when people around us become ordinary, we have somehow forgotten to give our best. We have somehow taken for granted putting attention to details and sprinkling an element of love to what we do.

So today I reminded myself that the next time I prepare a cup of coffee for a friend, I will choose the perfect mug, the perfect blend, the perfect corner where we can have a good conversation, because that person is worthy of my best.

The next time I write that email, or prepare that report, or chair that meeting, I will make sure that it represents my best, because it is who I am and who I should be.

The next time I become too critical of others, and of life, I will be that forgiving and understanding, because being the best also means having a gentle heart.

The next time I will find myself in the midst of life’s battle, I will look up at the heavens, find my parents, ask them to bless me, and then I will do my best, because they continue to be worthy of my best.

Today, let us ask God for this special grace, that the next time we do something, especially when it is difficult or inconvenient, we think of that person we do it for, and say, ‘Because you are worthy of my best.’