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.
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books, career, family, health, powerful

When $ can’t make up for lost time

I can’t remember exactly when it was. But I do remember how awful I felt.

I was working on a freelance assignment that required me to trawl the Internet for a list of websites. I was to look for certain features and take note of them.

It sounded easy enough when it was proposed to me, and that was the reason I agreed.

Soon, I discovered that the task was tedious, time consuming and no fun at all. I found myself slaving over it at any free time that I had — in the mornings before I went to work, after work and even on weekends. This was on top of the workload of my day job that I already had.

Thinking back, I don’t know how I managed.

But one day, the stress caught up with me. I was doing juggling my work and freelance job at a Starbucks near a college. I parked myself there hoping to get some unsuspecting college students to interview (for an assignment that I had). When there were no students in sight, I was back searching the Internet.

I remember suddenly stopping what I was doing and feeling absolutely depressed. I was on the verge of tears. I thought to myself, “Is the torture of doing something I totally hate really worth the money? I should really be doing what I want and enjoy. It’s the weekend for goodness’ sake!”

The payment I got for that job was honestly not worth the effort I had put into it. But funnily enough, that painful experience didn’t stop me from accepting more freelance jobs after that. No matter how much or little I got paid in return, regardless of how I enjoyed or hated the jobs.

It took me only a few months ago to realise that when I already had enough on my plate, I should just refuse any “extra” work. Things got so busy that I missed my freelance deadlines and I felt awful about it.

So in the end, I just told the people who hired me that I couldn’t commit anymore. I don’t think they were too happy about it. I haven’t heard from them since. And I also didn’t mention the payment for the amount of work that I had done.

I’m not about to ask for it because I feel that I don’t deserve it. I can’t take the money, I would feel really bad about it.

So it has been a couple of months since I am “free” of freelance jobs. And guess what? I’m so much more happier because of it.

Sure, I could use the extra money to support my online shopping addiction 😛 and I do have more free time now. I spend my nights reading books for pleasure or watching DVDs or my favourite TV shows (downloaded/on tv).

If I’m on the computer at night, I’m not working on an article (unless I WANT to) or a freelance job. I’m surfing the Internet for whatever topic that interests me.

My nights are purely ME and family time. If I NEED to meet a deadline, I’d rather turn in early and wake up at 4.30am to do it. Daytime is for work and night time is for rest, which is the way it should be. But don’t be surprised, I used to work day and night, whenever I felt like it. Very bad habit, really.

Now I’m training myself to be disciplined. To be as productive and efficient in the day and to enjoy myself at night. So far, so good. The fact that I’m blogging now (during my well-deserved down time) means I am doing something right, right?

I have to give credit where it is due. The 4-hour Work Week has inspired me to make changes to my re-balance my work/life. The book has a lot of useful tips but I have benefited most from the ones that suggest that I eliminate distractions, weed out the time-consuming and boring and delegate where possible.

I’ll talk about the book some other time — what I like and dislike about it — WHEN I am actually done with it.

 

books, drama, family, inspirational, relationships, sister

On to another book

Maybe this is a bit premature but I’m just about 10 pages more to finishing Light On Snow (Anita Shreve).

This is my first Anita Shreve book and I have been curious ever since I read the review in a magazine about three years ago. I got this book as a birthday gift from my sister this year.

I don’t know about other people but for me, this book engages me in waves. Sometimes, I’m really engrossed, and at other times I don’t think very much about the writing nor the plot.

But I noticed that I love reading about the relationship that 12-year-old Nicky developed with Charlotte, the 19-year-old unwed mother. Somehow, to me, Charlotte is the character that I remember most. I actually had to go back to the book to check on Nicky’s name. Not that she is a forgettable character. I think Nicky is so taken by Charlotte (charlotte this, charlotte that) that I think it rubbed off on me 🙂

Finishing this book means that I now have to decide on which book to read next. I think I should finally attempt Three Cups of Tea which my sister lent me early this year (or was it late last year?). TCoT is a bigger, thicker book so carrying it around will be more difficult. But I can always read it before bed, even if that means only reading two pages a night before I pass out.

Well, at least that’s better than not reading at all, ey?

books, me

Organised chaos

It’s past midnight and I should really go to bed but I feel obliged to blog. I feel kinda guilty that my last blog entry was more than a week ago. Of course I don’t HAVE to blog but I’m thinking, it’s kind of ironic that although I have been doing so well with “getting organised”, I DON’T have 30 minutes to blog.

So, yeah, I’ve been diligently using Remember The Milk to jot down my to-do list. It has kept me pretty much on top of my workload. Sure, I still have close to a dozen of pending stories but at least I’m ahead of schedule. For instance, I have completed two stories scheduled for July. That’s a big deal for someone who could never stockpile her stories before. Just the knowledge of having a stockpile makes me calmer and so determined to keep up the good work.

I don’t know how long I can keep this up, though. Just one reaction story can throw off my to-do list in an instant. But when that happens, I guest I’m just gonna have to grin and bear it and then hop on the bandwagon again. It’s just the nature of the job. So, I can’t complain (too much).

I may not been able to blog a lot but I HAVE managed to finish reading an ebook titled Time Management for Creative People. It’s full of useful advice and tips on how to be more organised if your job requires lots of creativity.

A lot of people believe that being organised messes with the creative process. Author Marc Maguinness argues that a disorganised mind actually interrupts the flow of creativity. It makes sense when you think about it. It is hard to be creative when you’re always worried that you are forgetting something important, like a deadline or that you need to prepare for that all-important meeting.

I like the ebook so much that I’ve already emailed the ebook to my work neighbour RP. Maybe I’ll forward the mail to my other colleagues too. If you need a copy, just let me know, k?

So that’s one item I have crossed off my list.

Speaking of my list, it says here that I’m suposed to blog about Paolo Coelho’s The Witch of Portobello (TWOP) which I managed to finish in two weeks. TWO WEEKS! That’s a record for me.

How did I do it? Well, I read the book whenever I had a toilet break, lunch break and whenever I manage to find time.

TWOP

Overall, the book has been a joy to read. I found it a bit confusing and long-winded at first but really hard to put down once I became more familiar with the characters in the book. For those who have never read this book and don’t have the patience for long-winded novels, you will be delighted to know that TWOP is potentially one of those breezy books which you can either read in one sitting or bit by bit because of the narrative format it was written.

The book is a long interview transcript of the people who “knew Athena (aka the Witch of Portobello) or hardly at all” by an unnamed author/interviewer. There are no actual chapters to this book, which makes it easier for slow readers like me to finish it. I could choose to stop after one “account” of Athena or continue reading until I was tired.

I have to warn you that it is easy to lose the plot especailly when Athena or Edda (her friend and fellow “witch” is “talking” because they can get a bit philosophical. You’ll be thinking, what the heck are they going on about? Mother? Vortex? Hera? Goddess? But stick to it and you won’t be sorry that you did. I didn’t see the ending coming (literally) at all because partly you have been lulled and led to believe that Athena hadn’t been truthful about certain elements in her life.

Anyway, I’m currently back to reading The Pact – a love story and teenage suicide pact tale all in one. I can’t wait until I get to the high court drama part of the book. Right now, I’m forced to read “flashbacks” and steamy scenes which I think are irrelevant. But I guess I’m still too early in the book to know that for sure.

Oklah. Time for bed. BTW, I’m going to Penang again this weekend for work. What are the odds of that happening, huh? Third time in two months? Hmmm…. At least, hopefully I can catch up on some reading and blogging there. Let’s hope the hotel has free broadband…hah… I wish….

P/S: I just got my July copy of Self and there is an article which says that a little bit of mess — your desk, you’re to-do list — is good for your career. Interesting….Will update on that soon.

books, career, cool website, me

Remember the milk!

I don’t know if you can tell but this month, I’m OBSESSED with getting organised and accomplishing as many tasks as humanly possible in just 24 hours.

I did a lot of reading online on “being organised” and stumbled upon some nifty websites that makes your goal of being clutter-free all the more attainable.

So far, here are my favourites (in random order):

1. Remember The Milk

This Australian-based company ironically has a huge American following. Now, they have a (another) Malaysian fan too. I love this application because I can sync it with Gmail, which means that I can see my to-do list just next to my list of e-mails. By syncing Gmail and RTM, there is no way I can forget to check my to-do list. If I want, I can get reminders about my “chores” via IM or e-mail.

I’m very easy to please so what I love about RTM is how clean my to-do list looks like at a glance (print able version). I can just print this every week and be on top of my chores. Cool!

2. Wishful Thinking

I just found this website today and I’m loving it already. Why? Because I got to download a FREE ebook titled Time Management For Creative People. I’m just on the fifth page but I promise to blog about it once I’m done. I’m writing it down on my to-do book and RTM as we speak. There, done.

I don’t know if I have blogged about this but I did FB it some time back. I was lamenting about my list of 10 pending articles as a result of back to back assignments. Guess what? I’m down to 8 pending articles. Woohoo! By July (plus my new knowledge on how manage my time in my “creative” job better), I hope to see that list (not inclusive of new articles I’ve been assigned to write) will shrink further and further.

3. Kick The Clutter

Here’s a potentially interesting and useful website. I haven’t gone through it but I’m sure it’ll bring some kind of wisdom…

More on this website on another day.

It’s past midnight now, so time to get some sleep. I have a 10am appointment tomorrow in the heart of town with a chatterbox. God, this better be good!

books, family, home, husband

Home is where the heart is

Damn it, I couldn’t wake up early this morning! Oh well….

Today, I’ll be blogging about the new house, particularly our room 🙂

Located in Sect 2 in S.A, the house is currently under renovation. It’s quite massive because 90% of the windows are being changed – the old ones had arches on top of the windows which were too big and heavily tinted but not covered by curtains. I assume it can be quite scary at night because you can see outside from those arches.

One bedroom is being split into two because it’s too big and one kitchen wall which separates it from another room in the house is being torn down so as to join the dry kitchen and would-be dining area. My parents-in-law’s room will have a quite large walk-in wardrobe. Our room will have a very beautiful view of UiTM wtf. But seriously, the view is nice. And because the house behind is lower than ours, the second floor is very breezy. This is not confirmed yet but my husband and I may get our own walk-in wardrobe too. The room which was to be our toilet will be the walk-in wardrobe. Our toilet will be built somewhere else in the room.

That may mean that the lounge/tv/study area will be smaller. But because all other junks will be in the walk-in wardrobe, I suppose it won’t be so bad. I’m a little concerned about my magazine and book collection but guess they will be in the library – somewhere close to the kitchen or the family room. Not sure where yet. Could be placed in the lounge area upstairs too.

My guestimate is that the house will be ready in Feb 08. I’m looking forward to decorating the room, particularly but am dreading the packing up! Well, we’ll cross the bridge when we get there.

Here are some pictures of my room undergoing renovation:

View from balcony

Another view of the room from the balcony

Construction guy hard at work. He is standing where our bed will be

This is where the study/tv/lounge area will be

Raff in the toilet or walk-in wardrobe 😛

This is the view which will greet us every morning, noon and night

books, family, job

Early riser

I was reading success stories about women who have managed to lose weight on shape.com website two days ago and found Sarah Robin’s story.

She says that part of her slimming success is rising at 4.30am daily to go to the gym. She said that by doing so, she can get home by 8am to help her kids go off to school. This is not the first time I have read about mothers waking up before anyone else in their house just so that they can have their “alone” time.

All these women say that waking up when it’s still dark outside is one of the best decisions they have ever made. One thing is for sure, these women can safely claim that they get so much done even other people get started. By getting things out of the way early, they have their evenings free. Isn’t that great?

I have occasionally been forced to wake up early. Usually because I have a deadline to meet. I dreaded the prospect of waking up that early but once I was awake, I find that I write best in the early morning when it’s really quiet. I almost never get a writing block when I’m writing at 5am because parts where I got stuck the night before seems to untangle itself after a few hours of sleep.

I’m already sold on the idea but knowing how easy it is to talk myself into going back to sleep at 4.55am, I did some reading on the subject of rising early. A website called Zen Habits explained it all in an article titled 10 benefits of being an early riser and baby steps to become one.

And so yesterday I thought I’d give it a try. I set the clock for 5am. 4.30am is too early for me, quite frankly. The alarm rang and I hit snooze. So I ended up getting up at my regular 7am 😛
But I wasn’t about to give up. So I tried again this morning. Succes!

Granted, I didn’t get to tick off ALL of the items on my to-do list. But at least I managed to shot off some e-mails and finish the first draft of my story for next week. That’s a start right?
Granted, I was feeling drowsy again by 11am. But I allowed myself a break/treat and finished my Madonna storybook titled The Adventures of Abdi (yep, I got it for 30 per cent off at the Times Book store Warehouse Sale in Sect 13, PJ. I was so excited to find it. The illustration is beautiful but I still prefer Jehan’s book, Yakov and the Seven Thieves.

I bought five other novels by Anne Rule (The Stranger beside Me and If You Really Loved Me); Anita Shreve (Resistance); John Grisham (Bleachers) and Elizabeth Noble (The Reading Group). These are authors who I have never read before – yep, not even Grisham. These books may not the best from these authors but I wanted to challenge my literary sense to… different stimulants, if you like. I could have easily picked up Plum Syke’s Bergdorf Blondes but I’m tired of reading about rich women with unlimited budget for everything.

I spent about RM130 on all the books – which is a great deal and would have spent more if not for the assignment I had after that. Yeah, Jehan and I used out lunch break to shop for books.

If time and budget permits, I’d like to go again, maybe Sunday. I only covered a quarter of the sale – just the bargain area (between 30 and 90 per cent off). I’d really like to see if there are other Anita Shreve’s Light on Snow is there. The last I checked – MPH Bgsr Village 2 – only her latest book Body Surfing is available and in hardcover at that. Who has the $ to buy hard covers?

I think this entry is getting a little long. I shall save news about the development of the family’s currently-under-renovation home tonight or tomorrow (with pictures!) for next time. Watch this space!