blogs, inspirational, mobile phones

How to blog better and more frequently

A few days ago, I vowed to blog every day — or as often as I can, which could mean once a week — which is my way of keeping a daily journal.

So what better way to do that than to join WordPress.com‘s new experiment in blogging motivation? (Click here for some background on the initiative)

The Daily Post is always there to offer some suggestions if I ever run out of ideas or topics to write about. Most people would prefer to write on matters close to their hearts but I think that blogging based on someone else’s question is mentally stimulating. It is similar to answering questions in a job interview — some will throw you off guard but it makes you pause and think nevertheless. Not having a scripted answer can do the brain good.

I can bet that work will gladly come between blogging and I 🙂 but I have given myself one less reason to say that I do not have time to blog.

I just downloaded WordPress for my Blackberry so I can squeeze in some blogging while having breakfast or when free time pops up.

Well wish me luck!

If you’re on WordPress and would like to join this little experiment, just follow the instructions as written here.

This blog post has useful tips and links on improving your writing/blogging technique, so be sure to check it out!

Well, I’ll see you soon!

P/S: Check out my new blog post on Happy Weight.

blogs, books, Happy thoughts, me

Nail biting experience

I HAVE never been one to paint my nails. My idea of grooming my finger nails is by biting them off. And no, I don’t bite my nails out of nervousness. And yes, if I somehow have the ability to bite my toe nails off, I probably would. The idea kind of grosses me out but not enough!

But last weekend, I suddenly had this urge to “do” my nails. I even researched into good nail salons in town.

I’ve been really inspired by this idea of spending money on experience. Research and anecdotal evidence suggest that people feel much happier and enriched when they invest in activities: a holiday, education, dinner with family etc. The thing about experiences is that they last forever in your mind. Material things have a life shelf and you have a tendency to grow bored with them. So even though a manicure might sound indulgent to some, for a mani/pedi newbie like me, it’s an experience that I’ll remember forever.

So I finally settled on Colour Culture at Empire because it’s one of the more established places and it’s close enough to home. So on Sunday, I hopped on the commuter train and popped by the shop without an appointment.

I don’t know why I was shocked that the small nail salon was busy considering it was the weekend. Empire is one of THE hottest hang out place at this moment. The nail artist almost turned me away but thanks to a cancelled appointment, she let me in.

I’ve never gone for a manicure/pedicure but I know how French manicure looks like so I decided to go for that. I have read that the process is tedious because of the many layers applied to the nails. But I had time to kill and was fully prepared to spend two hours there.

The salon had two flat screens and when I sat down, Love Happens starring Jennifer Aniston was playing. It helped to have a movie to distract me because some of the process of nail grooming scares the hell out of me. I’ve read that rough nail artists can accidentally cut your cuticle and I really didn’t want that to happen.

For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the girl who tended to me. But she’s probably senior as the two other girls consulted her a lot. I was comforted knowing that this girl knows what she’s doing.

She wasn’t very gentle at times. The buffing part felt rough but I liked the fact that she was fast yet meticulous. I’ve read about nail artists who can’t paint a straight line for the white parts but she did a good job. Her hand didn’t even shake as she concentrated on painting the thin white lines. I bet she’s one of those who can put on their liquid eyeliner with a single stroke (or something).

Getting my nails done made me realise how I take them for granted. It was so hard to do things while my nails dried. Whatever I do, I would somehow accidentally touch/scratch them. It’s amazing how I don’t realise all this when there’s no polish on my nails waiting to dry!

Anyway, I am happy with my nails and am considering going there again around my birthday. Now that I am a member — I signed up for the mini package — I get to do my nails for half the price on my birthday month! Am looking forward to that!

The question is: should I go French again or should I be more adventurous and try some mossy colour or something? I have a few more weeks to decide, so I’ll take my time.

A manicure might sound indulgent to some but for a newbie like me, it's an experience that I'll remember forever.
blogs, family, home, husband, me

Where do you live?

In an interview with one of my favourite bloggers Gretchen Rubin, economic development expert Richard Florida said that: “As I explained in my book Who’s Your City?, the place we choose to live in is the single most important decision we make. It has a profound impact on the jobs we have access to, our career path, our social networks, the people we date, family and lifestyle choices and ultimately the wealth we accumulate as well as our overall happiness”.

I absolutely agree with him. Living in Shah Alam (in Selangor, Malaysia) has indeed had a profound impact on various aspects of my life.

I landed (and accepted) my current job when I was living in Shah Alam because, as a non-driver, I was confident that I would make it to work on time as I needed to take only one bus to work.

I don’t think my early courtship with my husband would have lasted very long if we had lived in different towns (I know Shah Alam is a city but to me it feels more like a town).

I have lived in Shah Alam since my late teens — first as a student, then as a working adult and later as a married woman. Naturally, I have developed an attachment to this quiet town.

Sure Shah Alam can be buzzing with activities if it wants to. It’s unbelievably jammed up during football/soccer matches, Sunday mornings due to the farmer’s market, Friday prayers because of the beautiful mosque that we have and also during Ramadhan because people from other towns know that they can do great Raya shopping at PKNS Shopping Complex and the other malls in the vicinity. Besides that, TV3 still tapes its entertainment reality shows at Plaza Alam Sentral. That’s a crowd puller too.

The shopping malls here may not have a lot to offer in terms of high street fashion and entertainment — we don’t have any cinemas — but it is still crowded on weekends.

And we have beautiful parks here for picnics with the family, for exercising, for cosy dinners dates, weddings and indie music showcase.

80 per cent of the time, the traffic here is bearable. I don’t know about the industrial areas of Shah Alam but the (noise and air) pollution levels at the residential areas here are pretty low.

The rent here is not cheap, though. As a small town with at least three major tertiary institutions, houses and rooms to let are snapped up like hot pisang goreng (banana fritters). I was really amused to see this room to let advert (that I saw in UiTM Shah Alam a few months back) which listed washing machines and wifi Internet connections among its basic amenities to attract new tenants. Back when I was a student in the late 90s and early 2000, we would be very lucky to even have a tv or phone line at our rented flats. Heck, we would be blessed to have our own personal computer at the time, let alone a laptop!

Times have changed, and so have lifestyles.

Shah Alam today is filled with middle-class families with money to spare — maybe more so than before. Although I had lived in Shah Alam longer than my husband has, I have only started mingling with born and bred Shah Alam residents through him.

Through them, I get to see a different side of the town. The youth of the town can be very liberal in their outlook and lifestyle. This is an affluent suburban where the kids go to the nearest town to have fun because they have the allowance and the car to get there. A majority of them don’t attend the public universities in town either because they don’t have the grades to qualify or they feel like an outcast and fit better in the private colleges. Their parents earn enough to make it possible for them to switch colleges “in case things don’t work out”.

But people from other towns have a lot of misconceived notions about this town and its people. When people tell me that they feel the people here are country bumpkins, I just laugh because it could not be farther from the truth.

I think it’s a great place to live in but I do worry about raising teenagers here. Bored suburban kids can get into a lot of trouble. Having said that, I think that generally, the 21st century has become a complicated time to raise a family, no matter where you live. Kids get abducted, purses get snatched, new born babies abandoned on a daily basis.

So I guess what’s more important is not where you live but how you live (your life). As the lyrics to that Dionne Warwick song goes:

And a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight,
And no one there you can kiss good night.

blogs, me, US

Of curling irons and tolerance

I’m beginning to discover major flaws about my straightener. It’s not only too thick but also doesn’t clamp well. It’s grip is so loose, I had to put pressure with my own hands. Not impressed!

This makes me want to go out and buy a thinner flat iron. Maybe when my husband is not looking 😛

Anyway, yes, I’m still obsessed with youtube video tutorials. I just realised something though — most of the tutorial givers on the subject of curling hair are Asian girls. I’m sure there are girls of other ethnicity too but the ones I happen to click on are by Asians.

It’s amazing to read some of the comments youtubers leave for these girls. I’m talkng about the hateful ones. OMG, you wouldn’t believe the racist things they can write. Sometimes you wonder what the girls did to even deserve those comments. They were just teaching people to make their hair look better!

One of comments read something like this:

This (insert some derogative word to describe Asians) doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing. She might as well go back to Japan and plant rice.

And she/he was talking about a girl who gets thousands of hits and heaps of praises for her videos. Some people are just too much!

He or she doesn’t even know for sure if the girl is Japanese or not. Even I can’t tell! It’s not like she had a Japanese accent. She spoke perfect American!!

I bet the one who wrote that is a fellow American.

Speaking of Asian-haters, a girl (whose blog) I read regularly has also been the target of racist comments.

I have a lot to say about this in Asian people’s defense but I’m not going to write them here, lest I be seen as racist too.

Anyho, who would’ve thought that youtube videos on how to curl your hair can spark a discussion on tolerance huh?

blogs, job

Put off to tomorrow what you can’t do today

Just so you know, I tried uploading my HK pictures on FB twice tonight. But the Internet connection is kinda slow right now, so I guess I have no choice but to home from work tomorrow. Really, I’m forced to do it!!I gotta keep my promise, right?

Anyway, today felt like I didn’t accomplish anything. I feel this way when I didn’t manage to write a single sentence for a looming deadline. But in reality, I did go over two stories which I had prepared for my stockpile {yay, stockpile!} for grammar etc and made sure all the correct pictures were attached. I also attended a meeting in which we discussed ideas for a future revamp of the section I write for. Besides that, I discussed with colleagues the comments to put for the stories we’re nominating for the annual dinner/award night. We submitted quite a number of stories so hope that at least one “mengena” (gets picked). I also wrote a few emails arranging for photos for my upcoming stories based on the event in HK. AND, I made a phone call requesting for an interview in the near future. I mean, these are proper “work” stuff, right? But why is it that unless I’m writing my stories, I feel like I’m not doing at all? Annoying, isn’t it?

So tomorrow, I vow to start fresh. As I like to put it, “hit the ground running”. I’ll try to do work but if I find myself answering more calls than I am typing my ideas down, I’ll count that as part of a productive day. If answering calls isn’t productive or part of a day’s job, then why do phone operators and receptionists get paid?

Ok…now, I’m rambling.

Anyway, today, a simple conversation about career paths post-my current establishment got me seriously thinking about my next career. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing. It’s what I live to do. But I’ve been at this job long enough to feel like it’s “same old same old”.

So, when I do leave my current job for “greener pastures”, I’m definitely going to a company where technology is its core business. Since I’m so deeply entrenched in the education field, the organisation should put a premium on education and not just something it would do as part of its corporate social responsibility efforts. I’ve got several organisations in mind but I have to do my homework on them. And this could take months if not years.

I’ve been in my present company for seven years but I don’t claim to have learned everything that I can from it. I still have a lot of crucial skills — like presentation, communication etc — to master if I want to function “out there”. I have no doubt that I’ll be able to pull through should I get thrown into the deep blue sea. I always do. But before I take the plunge, I’d like to learn how to swim first, if you know what I mean. A postgraduate degree won’t hurt (in what? that I have to decide) and that’s definitely one thing that I should aspire for, among other things.

Well, enough talk about the future for now. The present needs my attention too. Later!

blogs

The woman in the closet

When people are desperate, they can do many unspeakable things. I won’t say what this homeless woman did is unspeakable, but she’s pretty desperate to have done it.

I’ve heard of people living in a secret room under the house but to live secretly in someone else’s closet FOR A YEAR is something else. I mean, a closet isn’t all that big. But since she could hide there for about a year, it must be either a very big closet or a very messy one.

I’m trying to imagine what a “normal” day in that house was like for her.

She probably wakes up every morning and makes sure that she doesn’t make a sound until she hears the front door is locked. She probably waits for about five or 10 minutes to make sure that the house owner has truly left the building. Then she leaves the closet and goes to the bathroom to ease herself and to shower. It must be hell not to be able to wake up in the middle of the night to pee, lest the home owner hears her. She must have gone through great lengths to make sure that she doesn’t make a mess. She probably mopped the bathroom floor after she uses it.

But the thing about us human is that we need to eat for energy. Without money, she can’t well go out and buy herself a meal. No matter how clean she keeps the place, the food that she took from the fridge ain’t going to replenish itself. The owner will replenish it but he’s definitely going to notice that he has been grocery shopping for two!

I’m trying to imagine her fear when she knew people were looking for her… searching room from room…hearing their voices coming closer and closer. And then suddenly, they found her! The shame and the humiliation!!

I wonder if she does any laundry? She probably does and has to make sure that the clothes are dry before the end of the day. The house may have a dryer, so that solves one problem. Since she is in her late 50s, she’s probably menopaused, so she doesn’t need sanitary napkins. That solves another problem. But how about during weekends? What happens when the owner doesn’t leave the home at all?

Now that the woman has been caught, I wonder how the home owner feels? Does he feel sorry for her? Does he think about her?

I wish I knew the answers.

blogs

Do you home from work?

I know I do. Every working day of the week. I just didn’t have a name for it until I read this enlightening article titled Homing From Work in April’s issue of Self magazine.

Homing from work is essentially the opposite of working from home. Get it? Homing from work?? It’s when you do home or rather personal stuff DURING office hours. Like blogging, IM-ing, booking a holiday, reading and replying to personal e-mails, downloading mp3s of American Idol contestants – whatever it is that your employers would prefer you to do at home, not during office hours.

Homing from work is the reason why I only start tackling “work” work at 11.30am, despite clocking in at 9 and end up having to bring work home.

So if you are anything like me, you could benefit from taking a few minutes to read this brilliant and hilarious article. Just try to do it during you 15-minute break, k?

Anyway, I can’t wait to try the tips this Monday at the office. I’ll give it a try for a couple of day and keep you posted on my progress. Hopefully, I will be blogging about it AT home and not during work 🙂