8 Lessons February Taught Me

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Boom. Just like that and it's mid-March. I certainly don't know where the time is going. All I know is that I am back at chasing it. Life in 2018 so far has been a roller coaster for me, but I am very much enjoying every bit of the ride. There are days of course when it all becomes overwhelmingly nauseating.  But when this happens, all I do is close my eyes and think of all the blessings that have come and are still coming my way, then I am renewed almost instantly.

To say the least, the first three months of 2018 has been a learning curve. And whilst I enjoy writing about food and places, all that this year has allowed me so far is to reflect on the lessons that I have learned, hence this second entry for my lessons learned series.

1. There is such a thing as good stress
- I am not going to deny that I am under quite a bit of stress at the moment. However, the stress I am going through right now isn't the stress that can cause skin breakout or the stress that will make you like a zombie. Instead, it is that kind of stress that excites you and pushes you harder to achieve a certain goal. It is the stress that makes you feel good about yourself and see things in a more positive light. It is the stress that keeps you motivated despite all the negativity that surrounds you. It's the kind of stress that makes you love life even more despite the challenges. It is that- good stress. I never knew it existed until I experienced it, and it feels so good.

2. Be kind and the world will be kind to you
-  If you are an innately kind person, the universe will find its way to repay your kindness. It may not be the biggest things that you are hoping for, but you should remember that oftentimes, it's those little things that really matter. Be it a weekly free coffee from your favourite coffee shop, a free chocolate bar from somebody you've just recently met or an extra stamp on your loyalty card- be grateful just the same. Or it could be that priceless moment when a five year old said that you are the kindest in the family.

3. Don't give up on something without even trying
- One day at work, we were talking about marmite. Someone asked me if I like it and I confidently said no as if I've tried it before. When I admitted that I actually haven't tried it, I realised one thing: that I have given up on something without even trying. That moment, I was reminded of those times when I was easily convinced I couldn't do something, when in fact I never actually tried anything. Luckily now,I have an angel up in heaven who always reminds me that I can do anything. He gives me the courage to keep on believing and trying on something even if I am often feel like a failure. He made me believe that everything and everyone deserve a chance in this world.

4. Always be mindful of your words and your actions
- I can no longer count how many times I have actually said this to other people in the last month. Personally, I have been a victim of misinterpretation and I have fallen out with really good friends because of this. I have learned my lessons since then and now, I am trying really hard to be mindful of how I say things and react to a situation or a person. What I learned recently is that some people interact with you to find something that they can criticise about you. Hence, every single word you say, every eyebrow you raise and every body action you make is going to be scrutinised. Believe it or not, if any of those is not of their "standard" (whatever that is), you will be portrayed as rude, abrupt, inappropriate, etc. But saying all that, also remember that you are not here to please anyone. 

5. Owning up to your mistake is easier than explaining yourself
- Recently, I made a mistake of not arranging something important and as a result of this, someone was very disappointed. Whilst I used to be very defensive and would waste time explaining to people why I made a mistake no matter how small, on this occasion, I just said sorry and admitted it was my fault. Being an occasional perfectionist doesn't always allow me to own up to my mistakes easily, you see. Of course I would apologise but I would then give as much justification as I can just so I don't look like a complete idiot. It's only when I have accepted the fact that I am now a manager that I decided to learn how to take full ownership of my mistakes. I learned that by doing so, I can make better decisions for myself and the people around me. 

6. It only takes one  person to ruin the whole experience
- Just as when you think that you are in an almost perfect place, someone comes along and makes everything more interesting for all the wrong reasons. Life is funny like that. 

7. Chain letters- sometimes it's some people's way of asking for a miracle
- Last month, a close family friend passed away. I wasn't aware that he was suffering from a medical condition, but he frequently sent me chain letters. Now I must tell you that although I broke the chain all the time (because I never passed it on),I always acknowledged his letters and said thank you. Somehow when I heard the bad news, this was the first thing that came to my mind. It suddenly dawned on me that perhaps, he was sending those chain letters hoping for a miracle. Then I realised that although those letters get so annoying sometimes, we should at least try and not ignore them because that could probably be some people's only hope.

8. It can always be worse
- I am normally a very positive person, but there were at least a couple of times last month when I was very tired and complained about silly things like not having time to do household chores and not having things that I don't really need. J was quick to remind me that my situation wasn't really bad. He asked me questions like, "what about the mothers who work full time and don't have maids?" and "what about the people who die in war everyday?". And he was right. My situation could definitely be worse. Therefore, I shouldn't really complain especially when I am fully aware that there are other people out there who are genuinely suffering.

There you have it. Despite how ridiculously busy I am these days, I am enjoying this chapter in my life because I am learning and growing  a lot personally and professionally. 


Important Lessons January Taught Me

Sunday, 11 February 2018

A month that started very strong ended with a trip to A&E, some minor operation and a health scare. January was indeed a very weird month for me. It was a month of promising beginnings, yet it was emotionally and physically demanding. It's okay though, because it was in January when I finally found the place where I belong professionally, and it was when I proved my worth without even trying.

So, despite January being a roller coaster ride, it inspired me to do better and make things happen. And with just a month gone, 2018 has already taught me a number of valuable lessons. This is the reason why I started this blog series, so I can share what I have learned and hopefully inspire other people too. 

1. Confidence is everything.
- I never thought that I could get my confidence back that easy. It only took me a black jumpsuit and a 3-inch heels to stand up tall and say, "Confidence, Darling". Haha. But seriously speaking, life-changing decisions can make or break your confidence. I decided to leave my plain-sailing job of 5 years because of some people who constantly made me question my abilities and doubt myself. Where I am now, I see women everyday who want nothing but have their confidence back and be completely happy again. I am so grateful to be a part of this team who empowers women (and men) to be who they want to be. 

My new found confidence has given me the power to make positive change and motivate other people. It is now my job to protect the fire that's burning inside me, and not let anyone steal my confidence ever again.

2. Use your time wisely.
- This is one lesson I learned ages ago but in January, I felt like everyone wanted a piece of me more than ever before. To be fair, I always try my best to be there for the people I love and care about, be it physically or virtually, but January was out of control. As much as I appreciate that perhaps people sometimes forget that you also have your own life to live, own problems to solve and a body (and soul) to nourish, you don't need people to infuse negativity into your already challenging life, especially when you have implied that you too are going through something.  For once, I decided to step back from those people and devoted more of my time and effort to those who genuinely deserve them. By doing so, I made people who were very deprived of support and attention, feel more valued and appreciated.

3. You can't fake kindness.
- You are either kind or you're not. However, there is also such a thing as opportunistic kindness. I know people who are only kind to those above them because they need their approval and they are afraid of rejection. The same people can also be nice to people below them, only because they believe they have the power and control over them. So, the people in between don't get the same act of kindness because they are basically of no use to them. But they fake kindness regardless because they feel the need to impress. Kindness should be consistent. It shouldn't only be given to people you can benefit from. Kindness should be extended to anyone at any given time. You can fake kindness until you make it, but ultimately, what is not innate will betray you. 

4. Anywhere you go, whatever you do, there is always someone who is not going to like you.
- Generally, people at my new job are kind and helpful. However, there is this one lady from another department that hasn't shown any interest in me at all. Not that I need her approval, but as professionals, I expect her to at least acknowledge me when I say hi to her. But I guess someone has to be that person, otherwise professional life will be less exciting. :)

5. When your instinct tells you it's time to move on, move on. You are on your way to making your dreams come true. 
- It took a painful betrayal, a trip to Venice and a liberating divorce experience for me to finally learn how to listen to my instincts carefully. There are only a few things in this world that are worth fighting for. If you have a single doubt whether someone or something is worth the battle, it's your instinct telling you that perhaps it's time to move on. So listen carefully. 

Last year, just like in the years before that, I let go of a few things, including dear friends and dream jobs, and yet I am definitely happier now than I have ever been in my life in the UK.  I am really happy that I followed my gut feelings and left my previous job in December. And because I moved on,  I am more positive and happier in my new job. Despite the fact that where I am now is very different from the respectable surgeons and the equally reputable hospital that I am used to, I am still very much excited and inspired because this is another dream come true.

6. Difficult situations are the best teachers in life, so treasure them.
- On my first official day at work, I was thrown into a difficult situation where I was forced to showcase my managerial skills in a still unfamiliar place, with people I barely knew. But this was the best thing that happened that day because I effortlessly eased into my role and instantly became a part of the team. I didn't do anything special other than be myself. I am grateful to the cause of the problem because I never had to go through the dreadful anxiety of starting a new job. That day was a learning curve and I haven't stopped since.

7. Hone that skill that nobody taught you.
- I've always known that I have the skill to inspire and empower people in my own little way and I believe nobody taught me this. This is a skill that came so naturally. One day, I found myself empowering someone who was convinced she was a failure. That's how I realised that I don't have to be in the television or in youtube, or even a writer (which was my dream by the way) to motivate other people. I can just be myself and be there for others when they need someone to lift them higher. I am fortunate that I am now in a professional environment where I can surely develop this skill.

Well, January has gone by quickly and we're almost half-way through February. I already have learned a few valuable lessons in the first ten days of February and I am eager to learn more. Life is more exciting when there are lessons to be learned.


Six Years Gone

Sunday, 28 January 2018

If there is one story that I will never get tired of sharing, it would be that of our beloved Keith Ashley. It's now been six years since we lost our angel. The pain has eased a great deal, but I guess it will never completely go away. Everyday, I think of him like he never left. But as soon as reality sets in, my heart aches all over again.

In the last five years, I have been doing little things to remember Keith, and this year is no different.

Ten days ago, I donated blood for the 4th time in the last three years to honour Keith. During the time that he needed to be transfused, there was no blood readily available in the private hospital that he was confined in, nor in the government hospital across the road. My family had to travel miles and miles away to buy blood. This shouldn't really happen. Blood should be available immediately when someone needs one. This is the reason why I decided to start giving blood. I wanted to help save lives in memory of my son. Yesterday, I received a message saying that the blood I donated has been issued to Worthing Hospital.I became emotional after hearing the news. I am just so happy and proud to have done such an amazing thing because of Keith.

And today, just like in the last 5 years, I lit a candle for Keith, said a little prayer and played his favourite song Lighters. 

I wasn't able to speak to my family that much today because we went to a Christening, but I know that they prepared something for Keith as they've always done in the last five years.

Speaking of Christening, this morning was my first time to hear mass properly since Keith passed away. The mass was a bit more laid back than what I'm used to, but it was still good. I am actually honoured to have witnessed the Christening of a child who went through so much last year at aged 3. It sort of brought sad memories for me, but today, I saw nothing but hope in the very resilient child and his family. 

Ah, six years have gone really fast. I miss the boy who brought so much joy into my life. The boy who has made me proud and continues to do so. The boy who changed my life for the better and who continues to inspire me to do better.

Life will never be the same without my boy, but his memories will always be with me. He will forever be loved and remembered.


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