Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Up in the Air

A long time ago, when I was a lot younger (and single!) I dreamt that my job would take me traveling around the world. I wanted to be a journalist because (a) I love to write and (b) I wanted to travel the world without actually having to cough up my own money to do it. Well, fast forward so many years later (I'm not going to say how many), my job has taken me to most of the countries I've wanted to visit at least once in my life, and I consider myself pretty darn lucky.

Scratch that -- I consider myself at this point quite confused.

One the one hand, yes, absolutely, with my love of traveling, getting on and off airplanes should be a joy and a lot of people would actually kill for my job. For crying out loud, Paris 6 times a year! But on the other hand, with my schedule for the next few months, the thought of that smell you smell once you board a plane really makes me kinda sick these days. Add to that the fact that I feel so insanely guilty for leaving the kids all the time - yeah, I totally forget sometimes how "lucky" I am.

I shouldn't be complaining, really. I've gotten so many Facebook comments every time I post that I am traveling about how envious people are at me (or my job, not me per se). And hey, with the amount of packing I do, I can now qualify to be a professional packer or something. Heck, I can probably pack with blindfolds on these days! And it doesn't hurt that I'm getting a pretty decent amount of frequent flyer points these days. On top of that, I also have friends who better replicate George Clooney in his Up in the Air character - they literally barely see land these days and are always flying to and from somewhere. Their best meals have consisted of airport lounge food! I am definitely not jealous of them!

But... on the occasional off day (like today), when I'm packing in the middle of the night have the rare opportunity to watch my children fall asleep in my arms, I tell myself I should try and travel less (though it's not entirely within my control). And, to watch the nanny roll her eyes when I tell her I'm going again is not really that pleasant to see. Or, listening to my husband tell me I'm going to miss another school meeting.

Turns out, it's all for the best that my husband decided to quit his job and do his own thing this year because he now has time to do all these parent-teacher school meetings! Who would have thought?

Just to fill you in on my travel schedule over the next few months: Singapore, Surabaya, Singapore, Paris, Geneva, Paris and Paris again... All between now and February 2011. Yikes, just reading all those destinations gave me shivers.

So is the glass half full or half empty? Am I lucky or am I unfortunate? Shall this just be left undecided and be considered just another typical dramatic rant of mine?

Yeah - the last one, probably.

But, I'll say this: when New Year's comes around and it's time for another round of resolutions, I think one of mine will be to ask my boss if I could tone down the traveling a bit. :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Confessions of a Worry-wart (a.k.a. a Mom)

I woke up panting in bed this morning, having just had a bad dream. I dreamt that my son Matthew was running around screaming and in panic because he couldn't find me, while I was screaming behind him trying to catch up and calling his name, but he just couldn't hear me. When I finally caught up to him, we were both out of breath and both crying our eyes out, frustrated and frightened at the same time.

Why did I have this dream, you ask?
I'm not a dream expert, so you may not want to come to me when you want your dreams interpreted, but I know exactly why I had this particular dream.

See, we found out that my son has moderate hearing loss and needs hearing aids just before he started his first year of primary school. We went through a number of doctors and a gazillion tests, and at the end of the day, he still needed hearing aids so we got them for him. I was unfortunately in Paris the day we actually had to come and pick them up, so I didn't see him wear them the first time around. But the minute I saw the picture that my husband sent to me on my BlackBerry, I'll be honest with you, I burst into tears.

I have been having so many mixed feelings about this whole situation. On one hand, yes, I want him to be able to hear and speak like any other kid his age. I want him to be able to understand when we talk to him without me having to speak loudly and slowly to his face. I want to be able to hug him from behind and whisper "I love you" in his hear without him having to turn around and look at me like I was just trying to tickle his ear - so if hearing aids are the answer to all that, then yeah, I figured, let's do it. But on the other hand, I just don't want him to be different either. I don't want these things attached to his ears be something that kids can tease him about.

About a week ago, when I shared this with a trusted friend - who I admire and look up to - she told me, "What's the difference with kids who have to wear glasses? It's the same, it's just that hearing aids are less common than glasses," which I thought was profound. It made me feel a heck of a lot better at the time, but now I wish more people thought that way. When I shared Matthew's situation with some other friends, they looked at me with pity and said, "We hope he'll be OK with wearing that ugly thing." (Note to self: this very much proves the theory that what kinds of friends you hang out with truly does matter. You hang with the negative, you think negatively. You hang with the positive, and your whole outlook on life is entirely different).

I'm not going to lie, I worry for my son.

He's a cheerful boy, always happy and smiley, and is always positive about everything. He has no reservations about going up to other kids and asking them to play, and he has gotten along wonderfully with his new classmates at school. He is very confident and I never want this to change so I certainly don't want the hearing aids to change him into the opposite of all those things. But I guess everything that comes after this is beyond what I can control. For now, what I can do is encourage him to keep being the way he is, tell him that it's alright to be different and that everyone is different one way or another, and tell him how much we love him and how great we think he is. And of course, I can pray for him, the way I pray for him every day. The rest, I guess, is up to society. I really hope kids these days are better equipped with dealing with differences, not like how they used to be when I was growing up. I hope to God that kids these days are considerate, respectful and kindhearted. Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, July 22, 2010


It's funny how things work out sometimes. My friends and I are sometimes so busy, so wrapped up in our everyday lives that we miss out on bonding time and catching up time. Time passes by, and all of a sudden you realize months have passed and you haven't seen your friends in ages.

A couple that my husband and I are good friends with - who are amazing photographers & creative artists by the way - have been traveling throughout the year and we have hardly seen them. I, being the busy body I am, have also been traveling quite a fair bit, so I've missed a few get togther sessions myself. But this month - yesterday to be exact - I had the rare opportunity of hanging out with them and having some wine and a decent conversation... in Paris! We're all from Jakarta, and yet we actually get to hang out in Paris.

They were traveling through Europe, and I was again on one of my many Paris business trips, and at the spur of the moment decided to meet each other for drinks after work. I can't tell you how excited I was! To actually be able to enjoy a decent amount of time talking to people outside the work circle and outside my family just seemed so precious and rare that I am actually writing a whole darn blog page about it!

It got me thinking: no matter how busy we are, we need to make time to spend quality time with our friends. Family is important - the most important in fact - and work is nearly just as important. But to me, friends are the people who keep you sane and on your feet. Friends (real friends, I mean) are those who take your mind off all your problems or who let you unload your problems onto them. When you fight with your in-laws or your parents drive you up the wall, you turn to friends and they'll crack up a joke that calms your nerves. Well, at least mine do, and I love them to bits for it.

This isn't really a profound or earth-shattering blog post, but I just really wanted to express how much I value my friends. I'd be nothing without them. I'm holding a glass of wine right, and I'm toasting to friendship. I hope you are too.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Service Oriented

Yikes. I didn't even realize that the last post I wrote was from May! Time really flies; we're at the end of June now and with that, six months has gone by in 2010. Crazy!

Anyway, my rant for the day is in reference to a recent tweet I made about this restaurant called Pepenero. Now, just to be clear, I am in no way complaining about the restaurant itself, the company, the institution -- not at all. I am complaining about one particular individual at the restaurant, who claimed he was the manager.

The thing is, I get it when they say, "No refills", but what I don't get is, when my friend - who obviously did not know of this policy - repeatedly asked for a refill, no one bothered to tell her that the restaurant's policy was a "no refills" policy. They simply nodded, but never came back with a refill. When the manager finally came around to responding to the request, he came back with a glass of hot water (instead of fulfilling the request of additional hot water for my friend's pot of tea). Naturally, as this was not what my friend asked for, she raised a complaint. Her complaint was then met with an answer "We don't serve refills" to which she responded, "Then you should have mentioned something to me earlier." The way that he answered her after that was just so rude, that she lost patience and said that the restaurant had just lost a loyal customer. And believe me when I say she's loyal, because we have repeatedly gone there and have repeatedly received wrong orders, wrong bills, and we still went.

What surprised me most was his response to her statement, which was basically a very arrogant, "So what?" He then pointed out that the restaurant was still doing very good business, so it basically didn't matter if she never returned.

Now, I'm someone who works in the luxury business here and for me, customer service, customer satisfaction and CRM is basically the entire basis of our business (well, besides the actual products, of course). We only survive because we treat our customers well and provide them with what they need. Our customers have repeat business with us because they feel comfortable with us, they get their needs met, and we treat them with the high respect they deserve. So imagine my shock when he so arrogantly told her (in so many words) that losing her/us as customers didn't matter! I was utterly appalled and disgusted!

Don't these people understand the value of patronage these days? How difficult it is to survive in the business world if you don't have the right attitude?

Here's my two cents worth to all restaurant operators, restaurant managers, etc: for heaven's sake, please treat your customers well. Even the worst customer should still be shown respect. You can defend your policy and whatever it is you believe in, but I have always believed that you can say it nicely and rephrase your words so that they don't sound rude.

The old saying is that the customer is the king, and I can attest to it. When we give them the service, they'll come back. And if you go the extra mile, they'll come back with seven folds, i.e. more people.

Never, ever tell a customer they don't matter, because word of mouth and the power of the internet is never to be underestimated. See how many people are on Twitter and how many followers they have (and how many followers their followers have, and the list continues), and you'll know how many people can potentially be influenced.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fear of the Scale

My second post in a day! I'm impressing myself.

A few months ago, my friend and I made a pact. We decided we would start to go on a strict diet, with the ultimate goal of losing 20 ponds (him) and 12 pounds (me). Off we went on our race, and months later, he is well on his way on achieving his desired weight, and I've achieved squat. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Ok well to be fair, I did lose 2 pounds, but obviously, I'm far behind because he managed to lose 10. Oh, and did I mention I gained the 2 pounds back?

We started out with the same goal and the same desire. We had the same drive that drove us to make the decision to do something about our weight, but between then and now, what changed? How did he end up doing better than me?

The answer is will-power. He has a massive dose of will-power and I have absolutely none.

I don't even know why I try.

I had a personal trainer and that lasted for what, three months? Then I started this fitness regime at a nearby gym. That also lasted for (at best) two months. I swore off carbs for dinner, only to find myself starving in the middle of the night and then going right back to complex carbs a mere four days after. I even force myself to try on my pre-pregnancy jeans (from 2003!) every now and then to motivate me, but it's still not getting me anywhere.

The ultimate question is this: do I even care anymore about my weight? If it is such a big deal, then why aren't I motivated enough to do something about it? And another thing. Should it even be an issue? All these articles I read keep telling me to love myself whatever shape and size I am. So why should I be bothered? It's not like I'm an elephant-sized person anyway...

Are these real questions or am I just trying to weasel myself out of this whole mess, completely denying the fact that I can't commit to losing weight for more than three months at a time? :)

Questions, questions. Who really knows the answers?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Oh Paris...

Another bad experience in Paris happened! Well, not to me personally, but I was there as a witness, and man, it sucked... This sounds bad no matter how I say it, but I do thank God that it wasn't me again. To have had it happen twice to me just seems a bit cruel, doesn't it?

Anyway, my friend and I were walking out of the Chanel Boutique on rue Cambon. Before you start imagining us with a dozen shopping bags and wasting all our money on Chanel stuff, we actually just had one bag each, and the items inside were small. I just bought like a pair of sunglasses, and my friend only rubber sandals. So, no, we didn't shop like crazy.

So as we walked out, a small group of 3 Italian girls (or so they say) asked us to help them find where rue Cambon was on their map because they were heading to Opera and said they didn't know where they were. Honestly, these three girls just looked like lost backpackers, so unsuspectingly, my friend helped them point out to the street name on the map to the two girls, while the third girl was talking to me and I just pointed to the direction. After all it was super easy, they just needed to walk straight up rue Cambon on to Boulevard des Capucines and turn left at rue Scribe.

A nice gesture on our part - really. But this nice gesture was then repaid by the fact that after we parted ways and turned to rue Duphot where the office entrance was (we left the office for like half an hour to go buy the stuff!), my friend noticed that her hundred euro bills went missing from her wallet! I swear to you, they were in her wallet when we left the Chanel Boutique, and they were gone ten minutes later!

The crazy thing was, the wallet was not taken, so it was purely only the cash. Someone we told this story to even said it wasn't a pick pocket, it was a magician! And to top it all off, when my friend went to the police station at Place du Marche (I think), they were very unhelpful, and even accused her of lying! I couldn't believe it! I mean, their city is full of crime left and right, the very least the police could do was be nice to tourists!!!! (I hope some of you out there reading this actually know some policemen/women in Paris so you could tell them to be niceer!)

At least when it happened to me, the guys at the police station were really nice about it and were really concerned about me. They kept asking if I was OK and if I needed anything, and they called the embassy for me... They were just really nice. After thinking about it however, it could be because they were suburban, not in the city centre. Maybe things are just a lot harsher in the city...

So anyway, long story short, please, please keep safe when traveling to Paris! And for Parisians that are reading, c'mon, do something about this. You get like (according to Wiki) nearly 15 billion visitors a year, and your economy could greatly benefit from them... Make us all feel welcomed so we don't think twice about coming back..!

Ok, that's my rant for the day.
On a happier note, I am leaving Paris today to go home and see my kids and husband. Miss them so much, and I can't wait to hug them! :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


So, whoever said money is the source of all evil may just be right... And for some, the combination of love and money is just deadly.

I was recently shocked to my core when I found out this sweet, innocent young girl was stealing money from her company, which led her to being held in a jail cell for four days - and all because of what? Because her (stupid) boyfriend needed the money. So for the sake of "love" - or whatever it was they had between them, because I don't think real love would allow you to use and manipulate people - she stole from the company she worked for. When the company found out, of course the first thing they did was interogate her, then escort her down to the police station. She tried to play stupid in the beginning and say things like "I didn't know it was wrong", but at the end, she fessed up.

I couldn't get it out of my head. Why was this smart, sweet girl so easily convinced by her boyfriend to steal? She committed a crime, and didn't even get a single cent for herself! And why, oh why, did this jerk of a guy - who said he loved her by the way - even need money that badly, that he was willing to "sacrifice" his girlfriend? It wasn't a life or death situation at all.

There are somethings in this world that we can't really explain... even if they do come up with answers of why they did it, I don't think people would even get it. It might have made sense to them at the time, but it will never make sense to anyone else... Well, I don't think anyway.

On a recent twitter post, I said "It's insane how much a girl can be influenced by her boyfriend to do stupid things... :( C'mon girls, be smart!!" which got a heck of a lot of responses. So I guess it's not uncommon for girls to be influenced and used, and I don't know what their reasons are, but I'm pretty sure a lot of it has to do with money.

Yeah sure, I can't deny we all need money. We all need to buy food, clothes, to have roof over our heads and to once in awhile buy the things we want, not just the things we need. But we should only do it when we actually have the money. We can splurge when we can afford it; we definitely deserve to once in awhile. But when you don't have it, seriously, don't force yourself. Don't go do drastic things and commit crimes here and there just to get more money - it ain't worth it!

Sunday, May 2, 2010


It's been nearly two weeks since I heard this news about someone at the office, and when I remember what I heard, I still shake my head in disbelief. Not that this hasn't happened before, just that it happened again and right under my nose.

I'm not going to go into the details of what actually happened - because that would just be cruel just in case she (OR he!) reads this. But what I am going to say is that I couldn't be more disappointed. You would think that after a person spends so much time and effort gaining trust from the people around her/him, they would at least try as much as possible or do whatever it took to keep that trust. Or is that just me?

I'd like to think that the human race in general sees trust as a treasure. To be able to gain trust from people, like your boss or your friend, is something not to be taken lightly. Someone wise once said the journey of friendship and love begins and ends with trust. You can only move forward with that relationship when trust has been established and once it's broken, the relationship stops -- or is at least damaged.

A single act of betrayal, no matter how small the person thinks it may be, can very well tarnish everything, and ruin the relationship for good. Take the person I was talking about earlier - let's call her Liz. She spent years fitting in and trying to get people around her (including me) to trust her and rely on her for help. Then, out of the blue, she does this one thing, and now no one believes her anymore. Regardless of the fact that we can all decide to just forgive her the way we were all taught to do in Sunday School, but as human beings, we will all now think twice before entrusting her with anything again.

What I keep wondering is: was it worth it? Whatever the reason was that led Liz to do what she did - was it worth losing all her friends and ruining the relationships she had worked so hard on building?

I think this should be the ultimate question anyone asks just before they do that one thing that could ruin it all. Seriously, is it really worth it?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Post Holiday Overload

Fifteen days in Japan, two days in Hong Kong. Total holiday days taken: 17.
You would think that after such a long holiday like that, I would come back all refreshed, happy, and relaxed, ready to tackle anything that comes my way with my fight face on and my punch ready to smack all the crap and nonsense away.

And that was exactly what happened. For like the first half hour of being back in the office.

Now look, I don't want to sound ungrateful for the holiday I had. In fact, I thank God that I finally had the opportunity (after 2 years of not taking any leave!!) to take a break from everything and just spend quality time with my kids enjoying life and enjoying the scenery. The holiday was awesome!

The only problem was getting back into the routine POST holiday.

Picture this: I came back to work with a pile of papers to sign, over 2000 emails to read (even though I already read some during the holiday on my blackberry --Onyx can be used in Japan --), and a line up of people outside my door ready to tell me all the problems they encountered while I was away and to get me up to speed with what had been going on and what was coming up next. Then, I check my schedule on my desk, and see one of the longest lists of meetings in the history of my 10 years with the company. Yikes!

It's now been around 2 weeks since coming back (which explains why I have been MIA on this blogging thing too), and I am STILL not back into my zone yet! In fact, if anything, I feel even more overwhelmed than before taking the holiday! By day 2 of being back at work, I wished I could just pack up and leave on another vacation.

Oh well. I guess that's how life is. You want a vay-cay, you get one, you come back, you complain and you want another one. You want a job, you get one, then you complain about it. It's like nothing is ever enough and you keep on wanting more. But like I posted on an earlier tweet this week: Everyday is a choice. You either be grateful for what you have and be happy, or look at others that have (or get) more and be miserable. It's totally your call.

I am overwhelmed - yes indeed. I am more exhausted now than before going on the break - oh yes certainly. But you know what, I've decided I'm OK with it... because it actually means I have a job, and I am simply a bit busier because I went on a kick-ass holiday for a long time, and I just need a bit of time to catch up... :) I swear, just writing this, I'm a lot happier already!

What's your choice for today? :)

Oh - and just to show you a glimpse of the awesome, kick-ass Japan trip, I've given you a little pic of me and the blooming cherry blossoms! We were so lucky to be there when they were blossoming, because they only last about 2 weeks in the year, and you can never really pinpoint when they start to bloom. So cool!

Till next time!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Report Card Day!

So... Today was report card day for my 2 kids, and I went to their school this morning, not really knowing what to expect. Well, OK, to be completely honest, I did expect a few things. I expected Matthew's teacher to say that Matthew was a good kid, still struggling with the speech part (and thus also the reading part), but overall has improved a bit since last term. I also expected Mikaela's teachers to tell me she was talkative, curious, a little bit bossy (because she totally takes after me!) but definitely a good kid. And I was right, that was pretty much what they said to me today.

But here's what I didn't expect: Kae's teacher said that Kaela, summed up in one word was pretty much AMAZING. Her knowledge, skills and behavior is well above the average 2 year old, and she even volunteers to be a helper all the time in class. One of the two teachers even said that it was just like having another teaching assistant in class because she would help teach the other kids how the songs go, how to do activities, etc. She would even console her friends who cried in class, like "Aww.. don't cry, it'll be OK..."

Also, Matthew's teacher said that he has vastly improved in his speech, he is talking so much more than before and that he was very happy to see the improvement. He said Matthew was one of the smartest in Math, and considering I was awful at Math when I was in school, I pretty much jumped up and down in my joy.

Am I proud? Heck, yes! I've never been so proud in my life!

I can't take credit for much, I'm sure, because I spend a lot of my time at work and traveling and effectively, I am sort of a weekend parent type thing (unfortunately) because I only see them on weekdays in the morning and at night, which is basically a few hours (OK, now the guilt is setting in). But, wow, I'm definitely a proud parent. I'd like to think that at least the quality time I do spend with them is worth something, and maybe they do learn a thing or two from me.

And get this - Kaela can sing the whole "it's my life/confessions" mash-up from Glee too! Yeah, she is pretty amazing.

Just recently, some good friends of mine were tweeting about lost time with the kids because of traveling, and of course, this really struck some chords with me. I'd love to be able to say one day that my kids turn out so well because my husband and I have superb parenting skills - ha. But for now, I'll have to settle with trusting the big guy up there to take care of them while I have to work. I think if I manage my time well and make sure the time I do spend them is used wisely, it all works out in the end...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Can I Tell You....?

Have you ever noticed how you sometimes always use the same terms for something? Or have a habit of using the particular words all the time? Like for example, I attended a seminar a few years ago and the speaker kept saying "As such..." at the beginning and at the end of every sentence. My colleagues and I didn't end up listening to the actual contents of the seminar, but were busy counting how many times he used "As such" in his session. At the end of the day, we counted 67 times! Crazy!

Or - another perfect example would be Paris Hilton's infamous "That's hot" statement. She used it all the time, and whenever someone else would say it, people would go "That is so Paris" -- I think. Or maybe that was just me and my firends?

Anyway, I have recently become aware that I have a tendency to always ask "Can I tell you...?" before revealing some sort of information. How did I find this out? Because over lunch, my friends and I were teasing each other about it. My friend blurted out the "Can I tell you...?" bit just before I did, when I was about to say something. Everyone laughed and it was harmless, but it got me thinking and wondering whether I really did say that alot. Long story short, I asked a few people, and I checked this blog too... and can I tell you? It's true! (See!)

I find it pretty interesting that out of all the words that exist in the world, there are certain words that just stick with us all the time. Out of everything the English dictionary has to offer us, we chose these words most because somehow they just identify with us, or rather we identify with them. I could easily just tell people the information straight off, without using "Can I tell you...?" first, but I never do, and I have no idea why.

A friend of mine always says "From time to time" as a preference over "Occassionally" and another always says "Yeah, right" instead of "Yes, that's true"... and I am now wondering whether the words we use describe who we are somehow.

What are the words you use?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Terrific Two

On Monday, February 22nd, my princess Kaela celebrated her 2nd birthday. It's so cliche when people say time flies, but OMG, it so totally does.

We woke her up in the morning and wished her a happy birthday, prayed for her and sent her off to school, and I spent the first half of the day reminiscing how easy pregnancy was with her, and how much I was just so full of love and joy the second I kissed her when she was born.

I have a framed prayer that I wrote when she was born, that is now stuck on to a baby picture of her and hung up on my wall, it says:

A Prayer for Our Little Girl
Lord, thank you for your beautiful gift,
The gift or a precious baby girl
We put her in Your hands to mold
Give her strength, passion and love
Allow her grace, serenity and wisdom
And everything else she needs
To make a difference in the world

I was in tears when I wrote it, because I was just so overwhelmed by the love I was feeling. It's amazing what joy children bring to your life. It was the same when my son Matthew was born too, but because of his condition, my feelings were sort of overshadowed by worry and fear.

She's now two years old, and in that stage where she's starting to question everything and comments on just about anything she sees. She's shy (so unlike me as a kid!) and doesn't feel comfortable being the center of attention, but she's so sweet, well-mannered and likable in general. I don't want to speak to soon, but I think this phase is called Terrific Twos not Terrible Twos. :)

More than anything, I want to be a good parent to her and her brother. All I want, is to be the kind of parent my children deserve. I hope I'm on the right track.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Assuming the worst...

Before I start my ranting for the day, let me just give a huge shout out to my brother Lance who is celebrating his 27th birthday today. Wishing him success, health and wealth...!

Today's topic is about assuming the worst, about being negative.

Here's what triggered this topic: a friend of mine recently told another friend that she was too fat for her height, and "humbly" suggested that the friend go on a diet and try to loose 20-25 pounds, otherwise no guy would want her. I've spoken about weight before, and this has nothing to do with the actual weight problem. The issue is more to the fact that my friends and I who were sitting at the same table listening in on the conversation were confused. Did my friend (let's call her Kate)actually say that because she was genuinely concerned about my other friend's (let's call her Ann) weight and guy problems or was she just trying to be mean? Can't deny the fact that Kate can be a b***h when she needs to (pardon the language!). My friends and I looked at each other around the table, then one by one started criticizing Kate for her weight comment, and she got upset because she said she was just really concerned that Ann was a bit on the heavy side.

Honestly, I look back at that conversation and how we reacted as friends, and I am embarrased. Why did I think the worst of Kate? Why did I immediately assume that Kate was just being mean or hurtful, instead of thinking she was genuinely concerned that Ann was a bit too heavy for her own good (and by this I mean for health reasons). For the record, I personally don't think Ann needs to lose 25 pounds! But that's not the point, the point is why was it easier to assume Kate was just being cruel instead of being genuine?

As human beings, it's often so much easier to just assume the worst about everything: about people, about situations, about just about anything. Like when your boss suddenly calls your extension and asks you to go up and see him, and the entire way there, you are thinking "Oh my God, he's going to fire me." Or when you try and call your boyfriend ten times and he doesn't answer, and you automatically think he's dodging your calls because he's bored with you. Another one that is most familiar to me is when I walk into a room and people stop talking, and I automatically think they were talking about me. They probably were, but again, that's not the point.

So why is it so difficult to think of the best instead of the worst? Why is being positive so challenging, and negativity seems to just be woven in our brain cells?

I'd like to think that I am a person who can objectively see things from different perspectives, thus leave no room for negativity. But evidently, I'm not, even though I try really hard to be. Being positive is supposed to make life so much easier, but it's so difficult to even try to be positive. What's that all about?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The View From Outside

At the risk of sounding cliche, people really do judge a book by its cover; they make assumptions and comment on things they only see on the outside, without even bothering to know what goes on on the inside.

Case in point: when I recently posted on my twitter that I'd be leaving for Paris again, I got more than a few remarks, all along the lines of: 'You're so lucky to be traveling all the time!' and 'What a fancy jet-setter!' These were comments made by friends, family members, and people I don't even know but have been following my twitter updates. (Btw, I appreciate my followers' comments!)

I always find it quite hilarious how people always think that I have the best job in the world. They think that because I travel and work in fashion, that I live this glamorous life filled with shopping, partying, mingling with A-list crowds and just basically having the time of my life. This is what they think they see from the outside: I go to Paris, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and a few other places for work all the time. I host a series of events (cocktails, dinners, exhibitions) locally, I get featured in some local magazines sometimes, and I get to meet some important and interesting people (e.g. Ronan Keating, F1 drivers Mark Webber and David Coulthard, Jay Kay of Jamiroquai, Louis Koo/Hong Kong film star, and the list continues).

And while all of those facts are true, they're missing some things too. Here's what they don't see: I sit in economy for long haul flights and have neck pain every time I travel. I skip a lot of meals because my meetings run so long and everyone in the industry doesn't seem to need to eat. When I travel, I mostly see the inside of a hotel conference room, meeting room or showroom - and that's about it. Even at this very moment, I am in my hotel room trying to catch up on 317 emails that I missed while I was on the 13 hours flight from Singapore to Paris. I stand on my feel in super high heels during all the events/cocktails/dinners/exhibitions and can't feel my toes by the time I go home (which is most likely past midnight). I have to work twice as hard as everyone because of all the traveling because the day-to-day work back home keeps on going even when I'm not around. And, the last thing that seems to be invisible even though it's the whole point my existence: I travel so much I miss important milestones in my children's lives. And friends, that really really sucks.

I find it so hilarious that I can't contain my laughter every single time someone tells me they think I have the best job in the world, simply because I get to travel the globe. What was even more funny was the fact that someone thought I earned a mega-huge salary in Euros. Hah! I wish!

Look, don't get me wrong. I don't hate my job. Not at all - I would have stayed 10 years if I hated it. It's just not the all fun and fancy like people think it is. A lot of hard work goes into everything we do, and not forgetting that a lot of sacrifices are made to do these things too. So it's not just all fun and games. Trust me, it's not all wine-and-dine, partying and jet-setting around the world. It's exhausting, tyring, just like any other job. Sure, there are perks... But don't let the perks fool ya. It's still a tough job to do...

So once in awhile, instead of always focusing on talking about the glamour part of my job, I wish people would talk a bit about just how hard I work, how much effort I put in in trying to be the very best at my job, and every now and then discuss how crappy I feel everytime I have to leave my kids behind. Can't hurt to at least try it out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Special Boy

Did I ever mention that my son has speech delay?
Yeah, well, he does.

Matthew is five years old now, and will be turning six in May. It's a miracle he's even around actually, so I guess I shouldn't be complaining about his speech delay or about him being small and underweight.

See, Matthew was born prematurely at 33 weeks, weighing slightly less than 2 pounds. He was an IUGR baby - which means that he wasn't growing in the womb. No one really knows why, the OB/GYN just said there may have been blood clotting the umbilical cord so he wasn't getting food (I was, and I gained so much weight it freaked me out). When he was born, he was so tiny, and the NICU doctor said he had a 50/50 chance of survival. They had to test everything: lungs, heart, brain, blablabla. But he was breathing on his own so the doctor said the chances were good. After 24 hours, they told me he would be fine and just had to catch up on growth. They also told me he would most likely have one or two delays, being premature and all. At the time, I just thought, yeah, whatever, as long as he's alive.

Well, he's definitely alive!

More than alive, he's extremely smart, talented, and he is such a well-behaved little boy. He can be cheeky at times, but hey, he's a five year old kid, it's expected!

When he was three, he was already doing puzzles for six year old kids. He draws better than me (OK, I suck at drawing so that probably doesn't count), and he has photographic memory. He remembers everything! He knows the route from home going to the mall, to my office, to his school - he remembers everything. In fact, I think the only reason he's doing so good in school (spelling tests, etc) is because he memorizes things. He's also so happy all the time. He's always smiling, laughing and the sparkle in his eyes makes me forget about all the bad things that happen in life: a bad day at work, a really nasty customer, sickness, whatever. One look at him and I can literally feel the negativity float away.

And, he's a really good big brother too. He is protective of her and always remembers to get her stuff when just the three of us (me, hubby and him) go to the mall without my daughter. He'd be all "Mama, buy this for Kaela!". It's so sweet it makes me tear up.

The thing is, this year all his friends will be starting 1st grade, and while we'd love for him to go to primary school too, it seems like there aren't a lot of schools out there who can accommodate his needs, and with his language and speech problem, it seems like he may have difficulty going to a normal school.

Over the past few weeks, my husband and I have been in a constant debate (not with each other - just with the options). Do we let him stay back another year and hope he catches up? Will he be OK being the only 7 year old in the class? (around here nowadays, people always go to 1st grade at the age of 6).
If we don't make him stay back, will he be too stressed out in school because he'll have a hard time in class? Will his friends make fun at him in class? Will a school even accept him with his speech problems? A million questions pop through our minds every second, and we can't seem to feel comfortable with ANY answer at this point. It seems like every option has some sort of negative impact so we can't feel like we're one hundred percent sure with what we decide.

Geez, being a parent really sucks sometimes.

So anyway, what we've been doing the past week is just trying to approach the schools one by one, asking if they can accommodate our special boy. We started out with a long list of schools, and I think we've crossed out all but 4 after speaking with them. I'll be calling the 3 schools tomorrow, and the 1 school has already said they can accept him, but it'll cost my husband and I an arm, a leg and a few other body parts, meaning that private school costs the same as 3 years of my college tuition. My husband says inflation, I say rip-off.

The only thing we can do right now is just pray. I guess, if we reach the bottom of the list with zero results, it must mean he's meant to stay back this year. But you know what, I'm hopeful. My boy has beaten the odds before, it's not impossible that he can do it again.

I'm trying to be positive. I'm trying to just stay grateful that he's even alive. I'm trying to keep my focus on the fact that he's such a healthy, wonderful, well-behaved, generous, kind and funny little boy. And that should be enough. Right?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Website - Yay!

Hey Everyone,

I know I'm a bit late with this but I'm happy to announce my official website is now up. Find me on www.shannon-hart.com and read up on the latest details on my book and my writing, plus you can also see what other folks are saying about my book.

If you are more interested in my day-to-day nonsense, however, stick with me here... :-)

I'll continue to post updates on both, and you can pick and choose your preference of reading material!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year, New Resolutions?

What was I doing when the clock struck midnight? Sleeping. Doesn't sound like much fun, right? I know. Oh well.

But just because the start of the New Year wasn't exciting or mind-blowing, it doesn't mean I can't have a good year this year. In fact, a slow, uneventful start could very well lead to one of the most exciting years ever. It doesn't matter how you start it, what matters is how you live it.

I'm trying something new this year - I'm not going to have a long list of resolutions and promises that I can't keep. I did that every year for as long as I can remember, and where did that get me? Absolutely nowhere. I'm still standing in the same place I've been standing since I first started the resolution thing.

Have I lost weight? No.
Have I stopped drinking coffee? No.
Am I exercising regularly? No.
Well, yes, if you can consider running around chasing after my kids "exercise" - but if you don't, then the answer is no.

So there. Nothing was accomplished. I made resolutions and promises, and I broke every single one of them... And when I look back on those things I never managed to do, I feel defeated. Like somehow, I'm not a good enough person, which brought me to the thought, "So what is the point of doing it?"

That's why this year, I'm doing it differently. No promises, no resolutions. I've decided I'm just going to live my life to the best of my ability, as positively as possible, and work on things one day at a time, because maybe without the pressure, I may actually achieve things.

When I was in school, yes, pressure lead to anxiety, which lead to me being more productive. But now, perhaps thanks to the fact that I am maturing (and aging), it doesn't seem to work that way anymore. I think these days, I am much more interested in the bigger picture: enjoying life. Different perspectives can change the way you do things.

This year I've created a "Book of Randomness" - a book that I scribble on with thoughts and stuff that pop into my head (when I'm too lazy to turn on the computer). In this book, I've listed down a bunch of "Wishes" that, without too much pressure and too much strain, I'd like to be able to achieve. These are not resolutions, these are not promises that I'll never follow through on. These are bigger dreams that I hope to be able to accomplish in time just by being positive and an all-around good person. No deadlines, but accurate and positive dreams.

Good person = doing good in everything, which means in work, in society, in parenting, in household finances, etc. Simple, but hopefully effective.

Check back here for updates on whether this works or not. I may be wrong, (or I may be delusional) and this may not even make any sense to anyone else but me, but I'm feeling so good about this. So how can I not try it?