Sunday, October 17, 2010

You Just Gotta Do It

You know Nike's slogan - Just Do It... well, whoever it was that came up with that brilliant, short and succinct slogan - kudos!! I've got to agree with it.  There are times where you just gotta do it - whatever your it may be - even if it means doing it alone.

I grew up pretty much with the mentality and belief that whatever you do, it should go with the flow.  The norm.  Don't stick out like a sore thumb.  Don't be too showy.  Don't be the black sheep.  Just follow what everyone else is doing and there, be happy with it.  And so, that was me.  I was such a great follower.  I followed everything (well, almost everything that I can remember) that my parents taught and told me, that the teachers said I should do.  I followed my friends - I wanted to be part of the gang after all - so whatever..I didn't mind going along.  So much so that I even went to movies I didn't like or know of and *sigh* I actually fell asleep during one of them.  If there were gatherings that required everyone to be there..yeah, I was there.  No question about it.  If there were something to be done or places to go, it would be passed through to the friends first and if the others didn't like it or feel like doing it then that was it.  The idea would be scrapped.

I don't know when this mindset started to shift.  I guess it was pretty much when I started working.  I met a few friends that showed me a different side.  I started looking into personal development.  I became more independent.  Furthermore, I was pretty much alone back then.  Sure, I lived with my parents.  But my sister was on the other side of the ocean as were many of my friends who hadn't returned from their studies back then.  So I would pretty much be doing things on my own most of the time.

And it was quite liberating actually.  I went shopping alone and didn't mind it.  It's nice to not have to wait around for others, to be able to take your own time and go to those places you want to go without worrying about what others may think or where they would want to go.  I went to the gym and aerobics classes on my own.  I found toastmasters and along with that, a new set of friends.

And then I went to Manchester for my masters.  That was lovely and liberating as well.  Unlike Southampton - where I did my degree - where the Malaysian community is small and very close knit - meaning everyone knew everybody and whatever you do, wherever you go, who you go with would be known by all - Manchester was great because there were soooo many Malaysians there you couldn't keep count and know everyone!  And therefore I was pretty much invisible and I enjoyed it. 

So before you think I was all sad and lonely, I wasn't.  There's a difference.  I had friends sure.  In fact, two of my flatmates were Malaysian girls.  I met two UTP tutors on my first day there and we clicked.  But there was definitely something liberating about not being tied down and surrounded.  I did things alone and I enjoyed it.  Going out for morning coffee alone, watching theatre performances and movies, shopping.  I even ran (OK, walked..) a 5km charity run on my own.  One thing we (myself, my friend Mo and my flatmates) usually did was go out to the cinema together but then we'd each watch different movies, the one we wanted to watch.  Then we'd wait for each other and walk back together.  That was fun.  I mean, you don't have to cancel what you want to do or just follow the others if they don't want to go along with you, right?  I did manage to talk my friend Mo to going to a Boyzone concert with me though! Heeeheee

My point is... don't wait around for people to say yes, to go along with you.  You just gotta do it, so be it if on your own.  Like today... I went to a flea market on my own.  I had a booth there.  Asked around for friends to join me but alas, none could make it.  The old me would have probably just cancelled the plan.  But the me now what if on your own? No harm.  You can do it.  And I did.  So I admit, it would have probably been more fun to do it with friends.. but it was not bad.  I actually enjoyed just sitting and watching the people walk by.  It was kind of peaceful to be with my own thoughts.

So darling friends, listen to Linachu...some things you just gotta do OK, you're not going to really be on your own anyway.. I'm sure you'll gather new friends and new findings along the way.  And you'll be glad you did.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Saturday, October 09, 2010

About Take The Plunge

A note about the post Take The Plunge.

This was actually the speech that I presented at the Area K1 & K4 Toastmasters Speech contest last Friday.  I was the test speaker for the Evaluation Speech contest.  If you are unfamiliar with Toastmasters and what we do, the core of it is about members presenting their speeches which is then evaluated by an assigned evaluator.  The purpose of the evaluation is to highlight the speaker's strengths and weaknesses in terms of speech delivery, speech contents and organization as well as to suggest room of improvements.  A good evaluation also motivates and inspires the speaker so that they keep delivering speeches and improving themselves along the way.  As doing and delivering good evaluations is something that requires practice itself, hence the evaluation speech contest that we have annually among members and clubs.  I was the test speaker meaning that I delivered my speech and I was then evaluated by the contestants.

That evening, there were 5 contestants including two of my good friends, Siva and Jason.  So I got a chance to listen to 5 people giving comments about my speech.  Which was good and a bit intimidating at the same time.

Well, the purpose I am writing this is to tell you about the speech actually.  I was approached nearly a month before as to whether I could be the test speaker.  And being the can-not-say-no person that I am (I'm working on it ..), I agreed.  And being the procrastinator that I am, I left it until the very last minute to prepare and practise my speech.  I had a few ideas running in my mind on what to talk about.  I was given the guideline that the speech should be somewhere along the lines of 'persuading the audience to accept your idea', which really got me off the track.  I wanted to deliver a good speech, follow the guideline given but at the same time deliver something I was passionate about and believed in.  So I dilly dallied with a couple of ideas until the very last minute.

The speech delivery went well.  I was worried about forgetting my lines and blanking out (tu la pasal last minit punya praktis).  I even brought a teeny tiny piece of paper containing the outline of my speech - which I held on to with dear life but none of the evaluators noticed.  The cool part was that the stage I delivered the speech on was rather high and so when I was talking about jumping into the swimming pool, I stood right near the edge and looked down as though it was the real pool.  One evaluator, Jason, suggested I should have actually jumped.  I should have oh!

Many people congratulated and praised me on the speech after.  Including these ladies, who work at this centre where I deliver Coffee News every week. secret is out.  I'd rather them think I was just a delivery person.  Some people questioned me why I didn't mention what I do now or where I went, what were the benefits of leaving my job, etc.  But felt I didn't need to elaborate on those.  My take home message was not for them to leave their jobs per se but it was to take the plunge and do whatever thing that they have been putting off.  It could be something as simple as saying hello to that girl/guy you see everyday or signing up to learn something you've always wanted to, going on that dream vacation or so on.  Do that something before another year or your entire life passes you by.

I thought of saving this speech for the International Speech contest which will be held early next year.  The International Speech contest is for those inspirational and motivational type speeches.  But then again, I thought..who knows what's going to happen between now and then.  Maybe, in the spirit of being environmentally friendly, I can just recycle this speech? 

I had fun delivering the speech (albeit the nerves..tu la pasal last minit praktis...). I enjoyed writing it.  Siva said that it's one of those speeches you would likely remember for some time.  I hope so.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Go Pink!

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It's breast cancer awareness month this October. Remind the women in your lives that they can lower their risk of cancer by choosing a healthy lifestyle. This means:
* Don’t smoke
* Be active every day
* Keep to a healthy weight
* Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit and cereals
* Eat food low in fat, sugar and salt
* Keep your alcohol intake low
* Be sun aware, wear sunscreen

* Do regular breast self examinations, be aware of your/their own body
* Go for mammograms for those who are 40 and above and yearly pap smear examinations too

And the simplest thing you can do this month, GO PINK!! Yes, that goes for you too guys! Pink shirts, pink ribbons, pink bags, pink neckties, pink shoes, pink out!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Take The Plunge

I was standing at the edge of the swimming pool, wondering if I should jump in.  It has been a while since I last swam.  I wondered if I still remembered how.  Is the water cold?  Is it clean?  How deep is the pool?  All these questions swam through my mind.  And then.. my overactive imagination leapt into hyperdrive and I started thinking of sharks and crocodiles and sea monsters.  And, I stepped back.

For many of you who have known me for some time now, you would probably know that in my previous life, I worked as a lecturer and that my educational background was that of a mechanical engineer.  You probably also know by now that I have since left that behind and that I am doing something totally different now.

When I first expressed my intention to leave, as you can imagine, I encountered some pretty strong and different reactions from the people around me.  In general, it was shock and disbelief.  One colleague said that I should see a counsellor or therapist.  My father suggested that I sign myself up for some motivational courses - to get the mojo back.  A friend said, 'But what else can you do??'.  Now, I was offended.  Probably the most useful advice or comment came from a senior colleague who said, 'Just pray for guidance and God will show you the way'.  So there I was - from top academician one day to a nutcase slacker the next.

But it's not like it was an impulsive Jerry Maguire, spur of the moment decision.  It had been brewing on for some time now.  You see, each year, a group of friends and myself would gather together and we would talk about our lives, our dreams, what we wanted to do, wondering What If?  And before we would know it, another year would pass by and there we would be again, talking about the same thing again the following year.  And I just didn't like the thought of being in that same spot again the next year.

I realized that all those people's reactions were actually based on fear.  Fear of the unknown.  And it's not that I wasn't scared.  I was terrified!  The only thing is.. I live in this world where I believe that there are opportunities and possibilities everywhere for every one, including me.  I had this insatiable belief that things would turn out alright, one way or another.  So there, (to keep things short).. I took the plunge.

I can't say it's been all a bed of roses since then.  Every rose bush has it's thorns, right?  And I have come across some sharks and crocodiles and sea monsters along the way.  But I can also say that it has been enlightening and humbling and amazing.  And I hope that this leads me to finding my destiny and life's true purpose some day.

And so, if I do wake up some day and realize that my life's destiny to become a lecturer, of engineering, then I will go back to that.  No shame, no qualms about starting over again because at least then, I would have known that I gave it a shot.  I wouldn't still just be wondering, What If?

So I'm back at the edge of that swimming pool.  And I realize that it's just that first step that is so scary and so hard to take.  I take a deep breath.... and I jump.  You know what... the water feels sooooo goooood!  What about you?  What are you waiting for?