Thursday, November 1, 2012


What constitutes failure? Is it not the inability to meet expectations? Whoever's expectations. The fear of failure can be so crippling that it causes one to just freeze and not look at the possibility of a light at the end of the tunnel.
Failure is something many people are fearful of. Failure in studies, in exams, in work, in marriage, in fulfilling aims and ambitions. Expectations not being met is not the worst thing in the world.
Whose expectations do we want to meet? For many, it's someone else's expectations. Parents', spouse's, society's, employer's.... the list just goes on. Can we truly meet every expectation? Perhaps. But more often than not, some of these expectations will come to naught and someone is going to be considered a failure, or that person has failed.
It boils down to the values that we hold. That will determine if we see ourselves as having failed or not. Whether the expectations we have are realistic or not, achievable or not.
Someone asked me very recently if it is ok to fail. I thought for a second and said yes. It is okay to fail, provided that every effort has been made to try and make things work. If they don't, even then, perhaps that is not a failure in itself. It's just learning another way NOT to do something.
I don't want to fail. No one does. But someone will, if expectations and values do not come together. I just hope that it won't be too scary.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31st October 2012 - Reflection

Is it end of October already? This marks 2 months and 19 days since we arrived in Shanghai. So much has happened in the last 10 weeks or so, it doesn't feel like it's only been 10 weeks. In a way, it feels like we've been here for half a year. I guess, being busy and just doing all things and meeting so many people, we can't help but feel like we've been here a long time. I mean, for CM it has been 5 and a half months, so it's almost been half a year.
In the last 2 months, things have been hard, with so many things to think about and plan and just plain try to settle. The changes in mood at home have made things hard. It's unbelievable how this vast country can change a person, how it can affect a person to the extremes. I wouldn't have believed it had I not seen it personally and experienced it myself.
In the last 2 months, I have felt fear, worry, anger, self-pity and impatience. Not your every day usual feelings, but somewhat to the extreme. I am grateful for the support I have had from various people and they have helped me through those episodes, whether by their prayers or their aptly spoken words and their actions. I still have days when I feel uncertain, when I don't know what I am doing. I would stare at various things in the apartment and wonder what I am doing, what I am going to do, what I plan to cook, where I want to go, etc. Sometimes, all I want to do is just climb back into bed and sleep the day away. So far, I have not succumbed to that. I have been able to get over that feeling of not being ready to face the world. Thank God, indeed.
I cannot plan very far into the future. I am afraid if I do, the plans will come to naught. Right now, all I truly look forward to is the trip home for the Chinese New Year in February 2013. I was so worried that we would not be able to make that trip home because of no tickets or because tickets were very expensive. When the tickets were finally booked, I was so deliriously happy. Just knowing that I will be able to go home and be with people from home made me so happy.
In the meantime, I have to realise that the trip is not going to be for another 3 months and 1 week. Serious! I have no idea how long that period of time in Shanghai is going to feel like. I have been here less than that. And as the weather here becomes colder, as winter draws near, I am worried about our health, about how we are going to handle the cold weather, about how our emotions are going to be as we end up being more house-bound, unable to go out much due to the cold. I can only pray and hope that all of us will be able to go through the next 3 months plus, survive the cold and survive the possible emotional downturn.
I am starting to feel the coldness. One shirt is no longer enough. No more short pants, only longs will do. Jeans do not feel sufficient to protect me from the cold, I will need leggings. My shoes will also not be sufficient. I will need water proof full shoes, probably boots.  The children will also need more clothes that suit the weather. I am thankful we have been getting some hand-me-downs from various people. That helps to reduce the number of clothes we have to buy for them. If only I could persuade the man to go and get some clothes for himself!
Well, more reflections to come some time later. In the meantime, I thank God for all He has given to us and done for us.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Surrendering to God instead - adapted from my FB note

It is so easy to surrender our lives to circumstances, feel defeated by the hard knocks we receive; but surrendering to God is so hard to do. We seem to prefer to surrender and cave in under pressure than to willingly give up our lives, our troubles and our frustrations to God. Why is that?
Is it because our egos are so big that if we fail, we just want to have the failures attributed to us? Or perhaps we just cannot give over the rein of life to the ONE driver who can get us to our destination safely?
It is so easy when we see others having problems to just say "Leave it to God. Remember Proverbs 3:5,6". Or God will not test you beyond what you can bear. Or what you face is common to man, God always gives you a way out. All these reassuring words, all from the word of God, can work wonders ... but can be very meaningless to the person saying them, because he/she doesn't know what it means to come to the state where one feels like there is no way out, when the point of desperation is so real and overwhelming. These can be just empty words.
So when this person himself/herself comes to the place where those very words can be uttered meaningfully to him/her, these words become empty words - because these words had never held true to him/her before. Because these words were merely words. Now, being on the receiving end of these reassuring and most beautiful words, he/she cannot understand them.
How sad it is then.
Instead of letting those words minister to the heart, some of us would rather let them pass, or escape to some corners of our minds and wallow in self-pity or focus only on ourselves, never on God.
How do we help someone like this?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Being satisfied - replicated from my fb page

My husband once commented to me, way back before we even got married, that he didn't think I was ever going to be a domesticated woman. He didn't think I would be happy being home-bound or that I would be very motherly. Was I insulted? Yes. But I let it pass as I didn't think I was going to be that domesticated anyway. To me, I was going to be a working wife and mother. I never thought the day would come when I would be a housewife.
Well, I am a housewife now. My primary duties have to do with the needs of my family. I do not go out to work, nor do I earn a living for now. I should be unhappy (probably according to some people). But I am not. I am feeling contented as a wife and mother. Perhaps knowing this might not be a permanent arrangement helps.
My daily duties revolve around getting the kids ready for school, preparing snacks or lunch for them to bring to school; doing the laundry, doing some light cleaning, shopping for groceries and cooking. I am learning to enjoy doing all of these. Yes I still wake up early in the morning. Earlier than I usually wake up to go to work. I get busy from then until the kids and hubs leave for school/work. Then my life slows down to a pace that most people will envy. I can have a leisurely breakfast on my own, or I can start taking things out from the freezer to thaw, or do the laundry, or just sit and watch TV, or read, or get on the computer to chat with friends, or get on fb.... the list goes on. I have spent most mornings-afternoons either going out with new friends, or attending bible study, or just have a leisurely morning-afternoon doing next to nothing if I like. There is no rush. There is no one to rush me. There is no deadline to meet. There is no real necessity to do anything urgently.
I am learning Mandarin. I have had some classes and am learning to speak better, widening my vocabulary somewhat, and also learning to recognise the Chinese characters so that I can at least read some rudimentary words. My tutor is quite happy with my progress. I am happy with my progress.
Here, I do not have really nice clothes. I did not bring most of my nicer clothes. I have mainly t-shirts and pants/jeans. I only have 2 dresses and 1 skirt, and a few shirts. I didn't even bring shorts so I had to buy a few pairs. I have only one pair of sneakers (which is already falling apart) and slippers, and 3 pairs of shoes. I carry one handbag most of the time, sometimes I don't even carry a handbag but my canvas carry-all bag. In my bag, there is usually an umbrella (in case it rains) and at least one shopping bag should I decide I need to go and buy things.
My life is really simple. I don't have a lot of wants now. I am just satisfied being who I am. And I am counting my blessings.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Being Patriotic in a Land Faraway

It is Malaysia's 55th Independence Day. And I am not in Malaysia to celebrate Merdeka for the first time. The days leading to today have been reminders why I am Malaysian first and Chinese (descent) second. I am so Malaysian that when I am in China, I do not associate myself with people of the same kind with me, orientals, Chinese. I have a different kind of mentality due to different upbringing. I might look the same. But I am not. I am Malaysian. Everything I do and say, and think, is Malaysian. Much as I complain about the country of my birth, I love Malaysia, nevertheless. Will be posting more later, after I come back from a Merdeka celebration lunch.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


The last post was about fear. This post is about hope, the hope I have for the next 2 years. The hope that I see at the end of a short tunnel of uncertainty.
The last one week, I can only say I saw how God moved in our lives and how He is arranging so many things for us so that our time in Shanghai can be more positive. Actually not just the last one week but the last 8-10 months.
We can begin with the fact that James  was placed in Shanghai to work since Nov last year. It'sas if his being in Shanghai is a preparation for our relocation.
Then James and Sandy introduced me to Lay Ming and in March I came here and stayed with her for the whole week, learning about Shanghai and preparing to move. Of course, she, in turn, blessed me in many other ways.
We are also blessed that the job came with a package for the children's education. It is not cheap studying in an international school. So we can ill afford it. But since it comes with education for all 3 boys, we have assurance that things will be ok for them. Even the transport to school is covered.
In May when we came, we were blessed to have a relocation agent who understood what we needed. We found our apartment without much of a hassle. When we had to pay upfront a lot of money for rental and deposit, and a whole lot of other things, James was here to lend us the money because we just didn't have so much cash with us. I almost wanted to cry then, but thank God for how things have turned out. God indeed will make a way.
Now that we are here, I have been blessed with "chance" encounters with wonderful people. We met families in the church we visited and connected with a cell group. I have been put in touch with a fellow Malaysian parent in YCIS. And she has shared a lot of things with me, and she is Christian too,
So yes ... I am convinced that God has been watching over us and guiding us. He has been opening doors and shutting some other doors for us. I hope and pray  that we will be able to fulfill the reason why we are here. Just want to pray that CM will be strong and persevere in his work.

Monday, August 27, 2012


We have moved to Shanghai for 2 weeks now. And in these two weeks, we have been trying to adjust to various things here. It hasn't been all that easy but it has not been that hard either. I am grateful for having made the trip to Shanghai twice before the move.
Well, this new post is about fear. It's fear that I do not usually have. It's fear that is as alien to me as I am an alien in China, the land my forefathers come from.
My first fear stems from the fact that hubs has started travelling and he has left for Japan and will be going to other countries in the next two weeks. The boys and I are now left on our own and it is scary. We have only been here for 2 weeks and Jon & Jeremy have just started school. And Joel is about to start school. There are so many things that need my attention, not just the mundane every day things. I am afraid that I cannot handle things or make decisions.
But I know that with my God, I can do all things. I know that if I have Him on my side, who can be against me. I take comfort in that.
My second fear is the unknown. Since last night I had been agonising over the possibility of a typhoon hitting Shanghai. I was afraid, in case untoward things happen. I was afraid if the boys suddenly had to be taken home before school was over. I was afraid in case accidents happened. And I was supposed to meet up with a friend and I was afraid in case the weather took a turn for the worse and we couldn't go home.
So far the weather has held and there is no typhoon in sight. But it might be a rainy evening / night. I don't know. I was afraid because I have never encountered severe weather before.
But I am reminded once again that we are being watched over by  none other than God Himself and I should not have to be afraid. Even if hubs is not here. We will be fine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Shanghai - our new home

 On 12th August, we left home early in the morning to KLIA and our flight was at 9am. We arrived in Pudong Airport at about 2:15pm and we then proceeded to have lunch at Burger King. After that we took 2 taxis and came back to our home for the next 2 years in Shanghai.

 This is at the lobby of our apartment. Nice big piece of art there, and it is air-conditioned too. This was necessary seeing that the weather in Shanghai in August is sunny and HOT!

 In our apartment, the boys have to find things to do to amuse themselves. So far they have been contented with the books we have sent over, and playing with the Ipad. Thankfully we have an 'ayi' who comes in to do some cleaning on some days. That's her in the background.

These two pictures are taken just outside the compound. Yes, it is called Xiang Mei Garden and actually there are 3 phases of XMG, I think.

 More pictures in the apartment, in the living room. It is bright most of the time and at times we just need to close the curtains because the sunlight shining in makes the place warm.

 This is 21st August, and we have just gone to YCIS Regency Park to sort out some things.

 This photo is taken on the same day, in YCIS Century Park as we were there to attend the orientation and barbecue.

 My two older boys are getting ready for their first day in school. They woke up real early to get ready. 
 Waiting for the bus outside the compound.
Here's the school bus! Buckle up and get ready to leave.

How do I feel about everything? I am scared. I am worried that I will not be able to manage the children and their schedule. I am afraid that money might become an issue as I don't work and I simply dislike asking for money from hubs. I am not sure if I will have friends here.
Thankfully, many things have gone real well. For that, I am grateful to God for overseeing everything for us. We wouldn't have been able to do everything ourselves.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Leaving behind ....

I am going to write this entry is a different manner. I am going to express my feelings about leaving for Shanghai as the countdown begins. At different times I will feel differently. But here's the first :
16 May 2012
I feel a reluctance to leave. It is with a heavy heart that I leave knowing that I am, to a certain extent, abandoning a lot of people I care for. Foremost would be the students. I feel sad and guilty about leaving them just when they need me the most. I am afraid that I will not be able to complete what I need to do and they will have to face their exams without me. Truly I have been feeling like I am abandoning them. Much as I know that I do not have much of a choice, that my family comes first, I cannot help feeling guilty about it.
The form 3s are probably the easiest as they would be almost having their trial exams when I leave. The form 5s do not really need me that much but I wish I have a bit more time to teach them. I don't think I have done a very good job this year. The focus is just not there. The form 5 lit girls are the ones I worry about the most. They are the ones I still need to coach and guide. I guess I worry more about them also because no one else will do the job for me whereas the other classes will be taken care of.
The form 5 lit girls are in need of more guidance. I have not been as close to them as I was with last year's batch. I have not spent 2 years with them as I did with the previous batch. But I do love them, in spite of the frustrations I have had with them especially due to the production of "Holes". And I am not sure how things will be for them when I leave. Can I just push them to Sibyl and ask them to take classes with her for the last bit, that last lap? It is not fair on them, neither is it fair on Sibyl. So I don't know what to do.
27 June 2012
It has been over a month since I wrote the above. In the last month or so, I have had so many ups and downs that I just cannot really express my emotions. I have been sneaky and plotting with the girls to help them out. Yes they will be hijacked and my shadow will not have their cooperation. It is for their own good.
I was feeling very reluctant also to leave the cheer girls. But since I have to go, I am leaving them, And I am happy to say that I think they are ready to go on without me. It will not be the easiest thing to do but they will be fine. Better than I had dared to hope. Winning 3rd place for Cheer 2012 was the best gift ever, a fitting farewell for me. And that, hopefully, will give them the drive to strive for greater heights. I feel less sad to leave them.
23rd July 2012
I am slowly distancing myself from some people. Especially D*starz girls. I am not sure I can quit them cold turkey. So I am leaving them behind slowly. Bit by bit.
I am also starting to feel the anxiety of the fact that I will be in Shanghai, starting a new life with my family, in less than 3 weeks. It is scary although something which can be exciting. I am not sure how well I can be a housewife.

Second day I am on leave

It's been 2 days. I have been on unpaid leave for 2 days. I have been busy. I cannot see myself leaving when I still have so much to do.
I am no longer teaching. But I am meeting so many people. It's unbelievable. I have been meeting former students, former classmates, former schoolmates, former unimates, former colleagues, friends I have not met for a long while. I have been making time to see as many people as I can. It's crazy. But I know if I don't meet with them, I will regret it for a long time.
I have been receiving lots of affirmations from people who know me, about the work that I have done in school. I am thankful for them. Honestly, this is something no money can buy. Knowing that I have a place in the hearts of many people, nothing beats that. And I have been receiving gifts and cards and letters which have touched me to the core. Especially the cards and letters that contain some very sweet words from my students. I will keep all of them and one day I will read them all again.
In the meantime, I have been dragging my feet with some things I need to do. I still have to mark the Lit trial papers. I still have to clear my place in school. I still have to see to settling my housing loan. I still have to get people to view my Honda Stream which will be sold. I have yet to seriously pack. Yes I am seriously dragging my feet. I guess part of me is still not ready to leave. I mean, most of me is ready to go. It's just a small part of me that's not quite ready. I wonder if this is what most people who have to leave for somewhere new feel.
Hubs is coming back soon. I have missed him. Then soon, we will fly off.

Monday, July 23, 2012

6 working days to go

The time draws nearer and nearer. I am soon going to leave. I have been feeling strange the last week or so. The occasional excitement gives way to melancholy. And at other times, I dread the feeling of losing one big part of me.
I am not quite sure how else I am going to feel.
I have been meeting up with various people, having farewell lunches and dinners and meet-ups. It's been great meeting everyone. But it has also been hard knowing that I might not see these people again for a long time to come.
In the mean time, I am worrying about how things will be for my mum. She has been calm and collected, rather quiet, in fact. But I am concerned that she will end up crying and wailing on the day we leave. I am not sure how I can handle that. All I know is that I want her to be strong and look forward to our return to visit perhaps in half a year or even less. Sigh.
Hubs is now in Canada, and I know he will be very tired in the next 2-3 weeks before we fly to Shanghai together. I hope he can cope with his work. And I hope we both can cope with our new life in Shanghai next month.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Two weeks to go

In less than 2 weeks actually, I will leave the workplace which has been very much a "home" to me. I shall leave the students and teachers and the place ... with mixed feelings. Reflecting on my love-hate relationship with SA, I have to say, I have had more good days than bad days there.
I have learned a lot of things in the 15+ years I have been there. I never thought I'd last so long there, but .... well, it has been over 15 years.
I have learned to be more pro-active. I have learned to be at least a step ahead of my students in many ways. I have learned many sports. I have learned many responsibilities. I have made many new friends. I have enjoyed keeping some of those friends.
Will I shed a tear on leaving? Very likely. I will miss many things that I have come to hold dear to my heart while there.
NO I will not miss some people. But I will bring with me the knowledge that I have done the best I can most of the time, and even better than I ever thought I could. As much as I have been the teacher, I have also been a student. I have learned much, just as I have loved much.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

31 going 30

 I am one month away from departure.Today the staff had a lunch for Chong and me. Chong's last day is tomorrow. Me? Another 2 and a half weeks. We had our makan2 and then we were presented with our farewell gifts. I have been getting gifts the last week or so, hence the photos. But really, it is not about the gifts, but about the givers and the friendships. Nevertheless, I appreciate the gifts a lot.

 Top view of the few gifts that I have been given.
Close-up of the gifts
The pearl earrings from the English panel
 The cabin bag and the purse are from the staff club.

 This watch is precious to me, not just because it is a beautiful and expensive watch, but because it was given by my very good friends and the ones who bought it made an effort to find something so beautiful for me.
 This watch is also a precious gift to me as it was given by my colleague, someone who is quietly supportive and helpful most of the time. I really didn't expect this.

This is a close-up of the red purse.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

35 days going 34

5 weeks. That is all I have left here before I become a foreigner in a land where my forefathers come from.  
I am still not very prepared. My mind and my heart basically refuse to get into the relocation mode the last few days. I have so many things which I cannot seem to put down (direct Chinese translation). I am still in the thick of managing work, worrying over things which I have no control over, and being devious in getting some people into trouble. 
If not for being "forced" to let go, I seriously won't be able to. And God knows me well enough to force it upon me very gently. 
It was Hari K yesterday. And I met up with many former students. Many of them came running to me screaming "Puan Chrisssssssssss". And we talked and talked and just enjoyed the sharing of our lives. Yes, it was a sharing of our lives - how they were doing, where I will be going and what I'll do. And I realised, I miss those kids who have now turned into adults. I will miss being part of the lives of my students, especially those who have been close to me.
Someone said to me today that "our students contribute a lot to make us do the best we can". I was once his student. I felt honoured that he said that to me, and I can pretty much say the same about my own students. 
It's hard, this business of letting go. But do it, I must. And I know, much as I want them to miss me, I would rather that they move on quickly and do the best they can in all they do, and make me proud - as I watch from afar.
If I have the time, I will be posting individual letters to some people in this blog, before I leave.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Meaningful photo

This is a meaningful photo of my very good friends and me. The photo is courtesy of Azrianna, our student. We have had such good times together. I will miss them very x10000000 much.

The countdown begins

In 1 month and 9 days, I will be on my way to Shanghai. Yesterday when I was at work, I felt it very strongly .... that I will be leaving really soon. It is something I am looking forward but also scared of. I feel heavy-hearted about leaving all that I am familiar with, and people who are dear to me. My friends and relatives as well as my students - have been a big part of my life and I will miss every single one of them, even those who irritate me to no end.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cheer competitions

The cheer season for 2012 has come and gone. D*starz has competed in 3 competitions, getting 4th in NYD, 6th in C3 and 3rd in Cheer 2012. Juniors got 9th in NYD, 21st in Cheer 2012 and 4th in C3. The roller coaster ride of the team for the competitions was great. I wasn't around for NYD and for most of the last bit of preparations because I was in Shanghai.
But what I am just going to write about it the feeling of having brought the team to top 3 in the nation. D*starz has come a long way from 2004 when it was first formed. In 2008, I first took care of cheerleading in SA. Though I was supposedly only taking care of B*starz then, I ended up taking care of D*starz because someone else didn't want that burden. In 2008, their coach was Eric. I kept an eye on the team from afar, esp when I had to attend a course ending on Cheer 2008's first day. They did ok, as top 15. In 2009, I took over D*starz fully. The team was coached by Marcus. And ended up as 16th or 17th I think. Not too sure, cannot remember.
Then in 2010, everything changed. The dynamics of the team changed, the coach changed ... we took part in SOX for the first time and won, then Cheer 2010 and got 5th. That was something we had never really ever dared to even think about. Chee Wei coached with his team, and continued in 2011. 2011 was different as we had a young team, but we still ended up 8th. This year, 2012, our aim was to win. Realistically, it was going to be extremely difficult. But we still aimed high. And we ended up 3rd, something we were happy with but now we know, we can indeed aim high.
I am proud of the girls. It was a year of hard work starting from late 2011. We had worked hard for almost a year. The team was as strong as it could get for 2012. We had a few panics, when Hannan fractured her arm and had to pull out of the team, then Sobana having a fall and almost fractured her arm as well. In fact Sobana had a few mishaps but thankfully, she was still in the team. Lay Mun had major problems with injuries. She hurt her wrists and also her ankle. She was limping during competition. So it was very challenging this year. It didn't help that I had to break the news that I was going to leave them after the competition. It was hard, but everyone recovered and focused.
In spite of the problems and hiccups we had to go through, the team prevailed. Winning 3rd spot is nothing to be ashamed of, neither is it something to really shout about. We can still do better. Seriously. The potential is there. The problem is how to harness the potential and getting the support they need.  But for now, I am proud of them. I have seen the team grow. I am like a mother hen to them most of the time. I hope I have done enough these 5 years.
Season 2012/13 will soon begin with training and later audition. And I won't be there to see it. But they will always be in my heart and I will always pray for them, their safety and well-being.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My Shanghai Trip

This is something I was supposed to have posted a few weeks ago. But I have been so busy since I came back from Shanghai that I had no time or energy to put everything into words. Since whatever photos I have are already on my fb page, I will only write about the trip, minus the photos.
Joel and I made our way to Shanghai on 23rd May, early in the morning. We took the 9am flight out. Joel was really good, waking up so early to get ready and go, and while we were in the airport, he was well-behaved and we managed to get some food in before we flew off. On the plane, he played games and also ate a bit of the food he was given. Not very nice food. So, by the time we arrived in the Pudong airport, he was starving. We made our way to Burger King and that was our first meal in China. Joel was so hungry he walloped everything down. From there, we took a taxi to JW Marriott Executive Apartments in Tomorrow Square. Hubby was not back from work yet but we managed to get into the apartment as he had left instructions with the reception. Joel and  I had a good rest waiting for him to get back. In the evening, all 3 of us went for dinner and also bought supplies for cooking and other purposes.
The next 3 days, we went house-finding. We went to probably about 20 to 24 apartments in total during the 3 days. It was not easy trying to choose units that we liked. Joel and I went the first two days while hubby joined us the third day.
We could not make up our minds until much later and we finally chose an apartment in Xiang Mei Garden. It is a very cosy apartment which the owners were still staying in. We feel blessed that we were able to procure the apartment at the rental rate that we were aiming for.
We were also very blessed that the relocation agent we were assigned was a really nice lady, Ling. She's Singaporean and she understood my concerns. She brought me to various places to settle various things. 
As for school, we had some problems. Joel went for the assessment and interview and we were eventually told he was not accepted by the school. I was devastated. My heart broke as I could not believe that Joel was being rejected for school. We had to make other arrangements. I actually went to see the teachers and asked for feedback so that we could understand why he was being rejected. Sigh. It was sad,  but I understood.
While in Shanghai, I managed to cook a few meals for ourselves. Poor hubby had been eating out, so, getting some simple homecooked food was good for him. Easier for Joel too as he was choosy about food. I managed to find a local market as well as some supermarkets / minimarkets near the service apartment to buy supplies.
I also managed to meet up with Irene Jenkins, a friend's friend. We had a good meet up and she told me about her church which we will probably visit. 
We also met up with Lay Ming a few times too, and most importantly, we met up with James, Sandy and Jaeriel. It was a fellowship which I really needed, especially after getting the news about Joel being rejected. I needed the time and company.
We left Shanghai on 6th June. The 2 weeks there was a fruitful period. Both Joel and I had a good time there, especially since he felt like an only child, with both his mum and dad's attentions on him only.
We came home to 2 very excited boys who had missed us a lot. The almost nightly skype sessions were just not sufficient. I had missed Jon and Jeremy. I was glad to be back with them.
My impressions on how we would live while in Shanghai?
  • The housing would be wonderful, as the apartment is cosy and has everything we need.
  • Going to school for the kids should be ok. Not much of a problem is expected.
  • I am going to have to adjust to life as a homemaker, and also tutor to the boys.
  • Many responsibilities will fall on my shoulders, to care for the boys and occupy their time. 
  • I will miss life in Msia a lot.
Well, so much for the Shanghai visit. More to come.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Been a while ... so many things

I have a lot to update actually, but I have not had the time or the mood to update. Too many things have happened over the last month or so. My emotions went on a roller coaster ride. I went to Shanghai and back. My work got all piled up and I could hardly breathe. Where do I even start?
Okay, I will update about the reason why my emotions went haywire. There were several reasons but .... I will start with one.
The word "redeployment" has become a much hated buzz word to many of us. From the time we heard about it in December and Sib got redeployed, it has become a much hated word. People kept dangling that word in front of us and used it to threaten. No joke. And not nice.
So I was informed in Mid May that my name had been submitted for redeployment. On the one hand, I understood that it was the most convenient thing to do, but on the other hand, I was infuriated. As the head of an organisation, knowing that your staff is already going on leave, and will be severely inconvenienced due to all the plans to leave, one should know that it was not the smartest nor the most humane thing to do. I don't think she anticipated the fury with which I reacted to the news. And I made it known publicly how I felt about it although it was not for certain that I would get redeployed. I made sure everyone knew I had been put on the list and that I was furious beyond measure. I made it known that I would fight the system if I had to, in order (not to stay but ...) to not be redeployed. To me, whatever respect (which was not a lot in the first place) I had for her, all dwindled down to zero. It was highly inappropriate for her to NOT fight for her staff, and certainly cruel of her to ignore the fact that we are all humans who have families and problems which we cannot simply not face. If she was thinking for the benefit of the school proper, I would have had less to fight about. But it was not because of the school (the institution and the students). It was about convenience, her convenience. And THAT, I could not accept.
Already I was struggling to finish all the work I was planning to finish before I leave end of July. I was bending over backwards to try to organise all my work so that I would not leave too many things for someone else to pick up after me. And then THAT had to happen. I was seriously beyond angry. I was not even sad anymore, just angry. Only an unfeeling person would do that to me, and to my students and the work that I have been doing. It was as if her point was I was not indispensable. I know I am not indispensable. But not at a time as this, when all my students are facing public exams. Not when I have a lot of duties which need to be seen to completion. So, yes, I was furious. Perhaps it was my own self-preservation mechanism. But whatever it was, it got her worried because she heard about how I made my feelings known. I was told that she would not do it to me. That she would protect me. That she would fight for me. Well, that was not the assurance she gave me. I was given no assurance. And getting those "assurances" via someone else ... how much was I supposed to believe?
I chose not to believe.
Well, the date of redeployment seems to have come and gone, or perhaps it is not implemented yet. Whichever it is, I am prepared. I will not abandon my students, nor will I leave my work half done. That is NOT me. If she hasn't discovered it yet, perhaps she will now.
Right now I am calm. Just because ... I have too many things to do and I just need to stay calm and breathe and reorganise myself. I need to focus on many things, from finishing my work, to all the things I need to do before we move. And I cannot do everything myself. And it is only on my Lord that I can depend for strength and wisdom as to how to best do the necessary.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hell hath no fury

.... like a teacher who is treated like dirt.
.... like a person who is moved about at the pleasure of some people who do not know better.
.... like a woman being asked to sacrifice her family for the good of others, and is never shown gratitude for it.
.... like a staff member who is picked to move just because it is the most convenient thing to do, regardless of the overall effect it will have.
.... like a mother figure asked to abandon her charges.
We shall wait and see.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I feel like I am abandoning them

These are all photos that mean a lot to me. I feel like I am abandoning this group of people. Not necessarily the same people, but the group. I am starting by not being with them as they participate in their first competition of the year, the NYD competition. I will not see how they do, I will not know the result until some 10 days later, probably. I will not manage them, I will be anxious about them.
They know they mean a lot to me, even if they don't show it. I really love them a lot, even when I scold them and utter the most sarcastic comments towards them. After the main competitions in June, I will no longer take care of them. I feel sad and I really don't know what will happen to them. Am I abandoning them?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Counting down to Shanghai v 2.0

Can't believe I was just there a little over 2 months ago and I am going again soon. Me, a person who does not travel much, who doesn't fancy flying. But things need to be done, and do them, I will. So verson 2.0 is going to happen next week. The trip will not be as relaxing as the previous one. It will be filled with tasks that I need to complete - ie medical exam, house-hunting, Joel's interview, more house-hunting, and once we have got our preferred house/apartment, sign the lease, get ready to move in and then prepare the place for habitation, all before I come back.
I am rather stressed with a lot of things to think about and sort out and do. I have not given away the dog. I will need to do so before I leave next week. I need to collect a report from Dr Rajini. I haven't been able to get hold of her. I need to have Jon sit for an assessment test. I need to pack. I need to find out what else the man needs that I have to bring.
It is starting to feel like every task is a daunting task. On top of all the things related to making the trip and moving, I still have to mark all the exam papers. It will not be easy, and I know I will be slow. Might even have to bring a bundle there to mark.
And this Saturday, I have to attend a Ladap in Shah Alam. Like I really have the time to do all these.
And Sunday is Joel's birthday. Am thinking of having a little celebration for both Joel and Jeremy on Sunday since we will not be around to celebrate Jeremy's next week.  Haven't had time to really think about it. Probably just going to be a dinner celebration. Just makan. No time to plan anything else.
I'm tired. And not having the man by my side makes things really frightening for me. I will try very hard not to sigh!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Being appropriately disagreeable

This post was supposed to be written a few days ago, but I was either too busy or coughing too much to bother.
28th April 2012 has come and gone. I was glued to the computer all afternoon and evening monitoring how Bersih 3.0 was going. I have many friends who were there among the crowds, and I wanted to know that they were okay. I needed to know how the rally went.
There is enough on the net to let everyone know how it went. So I am not writing about how it went. Nor am I writing about the incidents that happened that day.
Being an armchair observer, I saw many posts on the net, whether on facebook, or twitter or even youtube about what 428 was about and what they thought it was about. What struck me was not their explanations of their understanding of the event. What struck me was how disagreeable many people can be and how many do not seem to understand the issue at hand. From the top ranks to the everyday man on the street, to youngsters ... the kind of comments and words, and language they used, I would not let my children read them.
How some people who profess to be mature men and women can use profanities in expressing their disagreements, I simply fail to understand. They can say that they are educated people who are exposed to the matters of the world, and yet the words that come out of their mouths (or typed into comments on the net) just do not reflect how "educated" they are. It is unbecoming when these people do not open their eyes and heart to the possibility that they have been narrow-minded, and they have not understood what that day was about, or that nothing warrants brutality or that nothing warrants the kind of language used. No, I am not necessarily commenting on those who did not support the rally. I also have a bone to pick with those who do, because some of them have absolutely no understanding of what it is about, and just rattle on as if they do, and they refuse to agree to disagree.
Come on, people. There are always two sides to a story, perhaps even more. Everyone has a version to voice out. And we are all in a relatively free country, and we can voice out what we think. But that does not mean that we can just bombard profanities or even be vulgar towards people who disagree with us. It really saddens me that there are so many people who do not know how to disagree and yet have some respect for others who are of different opinions as they.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My world

I have been reminded time and again that my family has to take priority over everything else, especially work. More often than not, I have pushed my family aside during times when my work gets the better of me, when my students seem to need me more than my family does. I have been guilty of spending more time and energy with my students than my own children.
Well, my world is going to experience a major change in about 3 months or so. No more students. No more work (the paying kind of work). No more needy people who sap a lot of energy out of me. On one hand, I know I will miss all these, on the other hand, I know this is the time that I give back to my family this person who is the wife and mother. They will be my world, truly. I know that the initial months will be tough, and I will be very lonely. So it will be a good time to bond with the children, and a good time to learn to lean on my husband instead of being the usually-very-independent woman that everyone thinks I am.
In the meantime, I am struggling with things. Work is one of them. Emotional entanglement with those needy people aforementioned is another. I do not want them to treat my going away as abandonment. But I do not want my presence here a taken-for-granted thing either.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Such a waste

It is such a waste of a life if all you do is look on the negative side, and behave like you're the only person in the world who has problems. Look at yourself! What are you doing with your life? Are you not wasting this life if you cheapen yourself to that level where you would do anything for money? Even if it is for legitimate reasons? And you want me to approve of you? Not to be disappointed in you? What do you think? My heart aches to tell you what to do, and what not to do. But I am no mother of yours. And you're old enough to know what is right and wrong. What is the point when I tell you one thing, then you go and do the opposite thing? I shall ignore you until you come to your senses. I will not be held accountable for the destruction you bring upon yourself.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

MPPH 2012

It was with much pride that I met with and hugged my SPM leavers today. They were back to received recognition for their excellent results during the annual prize-giving ceremony. Some of them have gone on to uni and college. Some have yet to apply to go anywhere. Some are waiting for results of their applications. All are anxious about their future. But I am proud of all of them, for they have indeed grown so much in the last few months. They have become young ladies. They have bloomed and they have a new confidence about them that wasn't there a few months ago.
Every year, a batch of students leave school for tertiary education. Every year, it is hard to see them go, especially those who have bonded with the teachers and have risen above others in the way they gave back to the school. Many have told me it is sad that I will be leaving, but they forgot, they too, leave. More often than not, they are the ones who leave us behind. But it is a good thing. It is good that they leave for better things.
A mother came to me today and gave me such a big hug it surprised me. I think I have ever only met her once before, during SPM result day. She thanked me for being her daughter's teacher. She said she read my note on FB about when they got their SPM results recently. And it brought tears to her eyes. I was amazed that her daughter actually shared that with her. But I am glad she read it, and delved into the heart of a teacher. And I am proud that the daughter said she will want to major in English when she studies in uni, perhaps in part due to the impact her English teachers have had on her. I am proud to have been one of them.
So MPPH is not all about the students only. It's also an affirmation on the work of the teachers. Much as it is said that these students have private tuition outside of school, many of them are where they are because of some teachers and the good work that these teachers have done with them.
I also went on stage today, receiving the prize for top 3 best panels for SPM, for Literature in English. It was not a big deal, really, but it is a public recognition for the work that Sibyl and I have done with the pioneering batches of students. We can truly give ourselves a pat on our backs for the results we have got.
Till the next MPPH, but I will not be there to see what happens.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Appreciation for teachers

  • does not mean getting gifts for us
  • does not mean coming over to hug us
  • does not mean saying sweet nothings which are meaningless
  • does not mean singing / dancing for us on Teacher's Day

But appreciation for what we do means :

  • affirming the work we do with you
  • listening to us and being attentive enough not to require a million repeats
  • having a good rapport with us
  • coming to school because you don't want to miss what we might teach you
  • anticipating the good that you learn while with us

Every so often, we teachers come to a point of just wanting to throw in the towel when those we spend so much time and energy on, turn around and do or say something akin to giving us a slap on the face. I have mentioned several times before, I don't enjoy celebrating Teacher's Day. This is one of the reasons why. Only on this day they "show us how much they appreciate us" with all sorts of thing. Please!!! Cut the fake smile and fake whatever you show to us. Be genuine! On a daily basis, not on that ONE day. Well, this year, I will not be around for that day. I will not need to look at those faces and wonder how many of them are genuine and how many are fake.

(*Yes I am angry with some of them.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

My heart is heavy

As the time to move gets closer, though it is going to be another 3 months or so, my heart is feeling heavy about it. I love teaching. I love my students. I enjoy what I do, even when I complain. The thought of leaving all of them behind is saddening, and it is with a heavy heart that I have to prepare to leave.
I am not one to reject change but, I just feel sad about leaving all that is familiar to me. A lot of who I am is defined by what I do. And what I do is .... educate. It is not something my family understand. It is not something other people appreciate. Most of my friends feel happy for me, knowing it is a good change. But only a few actually know how hard it is for me. If not for the fact that the timing is just right, that I have become so disillusioned with some of the things and people here, I would not have wanted to leave at all.
But I AM GOING TO LEAVE. I can't change that, nor do I really want to deny that. I just cannot bear it at this time.

My Last Drama

This is taken from a note I wrote in FB just a while ago. I thought I'd just repost it here.

Much as I would like to think that I have more years to go and more dramas to produce, I am being realistic. I know that HOLES was my last one. I will be leaving in a few months. And the likelihood that I will be back in the teaching line is remote.

Producing this drama had been tough. It had been the toughest thing due to many reasons. I almost gave up on the project. I was so close to just shutting down the whole thing. It cost me so much time and energy. It caused me so much anxiety which led to so much heart ache.

Sure, doing a drama is always tiring, physically and emotionally. It takes up a lot of time, it consumes so much energy and a lot of things get neglected as we strive to make it a successful production. I knew that. I knew it would be tougher than last year. I just didn't think it would be THIS tough.

From the start, the whole project was a challenge. First of all, it was not even supposed to be my production. Due to some people's doing, the original person to do it got ... relocated. So this project was either going to be abandoned, or adopted by me. I spoke to the group of students. Everyone agreed to keep going. I told them it was going to take a lot of their time and commitment. They promised they would do their best. Gullible as I usually am, I agreed to adopt the project and make it mine. For me, there is no half way project. It was either all the way or not at all.

So we got going. It was a slow process. Very slow. The script was rewritten at least 5 times. I know i have 5 versions of it. It was hard trying to get them to understand why the scripts had to be changed. I think they felt annoyed that I kept asking them to change this and that and when I could not withstand the pace at which they were doing it, I took over partly and specifically told them WHAT to change and what to cut out and just throw out the window. No one said anything to me, but I sensed the disappointment in a few people. I sensed the unwillingness to do as I asked. I knew why too. I was not their original teacher in charge.

But then I am not who I am by just giving in to my students. Never! Like a stubborn ox, I plodded on. I encountered so many obstacles along the way. Some were caused by those students themselves, some were not.

The date we chose, well, it took us a while to decide on the date. The school has so many activities that it was hard getting a date. And when we did .... we found out later that the staging of PGL was going to be 10 days prior to ours. What that basically meant to us was .... 2 plays in 10 days. Who was going to pay money to watch 2 plays in 10 days? I could foresee that we would not have a crowd. Even if matinee was going to be in the morning and it was a school day.

I was sad but ... there was nothing we could do. Ours was just going to be a small production compared to PGL. No one was going to fight for us, bother about our production. We were on our own.

Then I was told that the production date was no longer a school day. There went the matinee crowd. I was wondering if we would even have an audience.

But the biggest problem I faced was commitment issues among the team members. Not staying back to practise, not staying back to make props, to help. I would probably have felt better if they showed some regret and remorse, but there was none. I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry. I berated myself for taking on this project which was crumbling before my eyes. I regretted agreeing to do this. I could not face the fact that a project I was in charge of was going to be an utter failure and I was going to leave SA a failure.

Yes it was my pride talking. I felt hurt. My pride was hurt. Every day leading to D-Day, I sighed and worried. I wished I could have a bit more time to get the girls better prepared. At the same time, I felt like throwing in the towel and que sera sera. I was alone. I felt so alone then.

It wasn't that my friends didn't help. They were themselves swamped with work. My friend who has been relocated offered to come back a bit and helped. She saw how I was drowning. There was no way I could do everything on my own. I could not be at different places at the same time.

Last few days, I still encountered problems. Not minor ones, mind you. Seriously, I had never ever done a project with so many problems. It was almost as if it was doomed from the start. It was as if someone was bent on making sure it failed.

Several times I was on the verge of tears and I was just holding it in. If I did break down in tears, I knew, the rest would follow and we would probably have abandoned it. So we kept at it. I screamed at them. I pushed. I bullied. I threatened. I took them on a guilt trip. I became a mad woman on a mission to keep the production afloat even if we were sinking and using tiny pails to bail out the water. A few times, I felt my chest tighten. I knew I was stressed and I was not going to do myself or anyone any favour if I collapsed. So I made sure I took care of my health. Just a few more days. I had to do it.

D-Day arrived. One would have thought the problems should have all been settled and no more spanners would be thrown into the works. How wrong I was! That was when I was so close to tears that I could have just driven off. All my anger and disappointment threatened to erupt there and then. Thankfully someone was there to just be the balm I needed to keep going. It was the last lap. What else could I do?

So we went on. The matinee went on with a few hiccups. But it was better than I had dared to hope. The crowd, as expected, was no crowd. It did not matter. What was important was what we had prepared to do on stage. By the night show, everyone improved and it was a success. A few minor hiccups did occur. But those were easily eclipsed by the fact that the girls did it, in spite of all the problems. In spite of the fact that we had no internal support proper, we showed that we could make it happen.

So the show is now over. No more practices. No more staying back every day to do this and that. No more any of those. My life can go on again. I will miss this. I have but one hope. And that is that the team members have learned what it means to work as a team, to commit themselves to the work they have promised to do, and rise above the problems and obstacles thrown their way. Someone asked me why I even bothered. Afterall, who gets the praises and what not. Well, I have never taken up a project because of the head, or the name of the school. It has always been because of the students. Always. Another person asked me if it was worth it. It is ALWAYS worth it, if it is for the students.

I hope indeed that my students .... will learn to be resilient and to have that never-say-die ATTITUDE. When I leave them, I hope they will not look on my departure as abandoning them, but they will take that as an opportunity to prove to everyone else that they can do it.

To my students who have been wondering why I never wanted to hug them nor let them hug me all those months, it was definitely not because I did not love them. They will one day find out that it was because I do love them, that I have kept them at arm's length.

So there it is. My last drama. I wish it wasn't.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Short sighted or blind, or just plain uncaring

I have given notice of my impending leave since January. I have told them verbally that I will only stay until 31 July and after that, I will be leaving the country. The administration on the school has plenty of time to plan for the void I will be leaving, unlike the void left by someone else ... and THAT cannot be filled.
But it is now April, and we are moving nearer and nearer to end of July. So far, no real concrete plans have been made for those positions I am currently holding, which will be without teachers in charge. No one has been identified to replace me as the advisor for D*starz. This is foremost on my list of worries as the girls need someone who care about them and will commit herself to what the team does. I am slowly taking a step back, but I can't .... for these few weeks I have been so busy that I have not cared for them as much as I would have loved to. And one of the results of that is the injuries that seem to be plaguing the girls.
The Lit class will also be without a teacher. K has agreed to help them revise the form 4 work. But other than that, we don't even know who will mark their trial papers, aside from K who will mark the form 4 portion. The poor girls will be on their own. Well, the admin will just have to do something, or else .... face the peril of grades that might go down.
My English classes will also be without a teacher. My form 3 and 5 classes. I aim to finish all I need to cover by end of July. But no one will be in charge of them, their classes etc. Unless the admin makes some changes soon.
I am in state of perplexity as I cannot fathom a team of admin that sits on their hands and just leave things be. All they do is ask me if I have identified replacements. That is NOT my job. I will not be around to ensure that my replacements do their job. I will not be around to check on things.
I don't know what to say of them. Short-sighted, blind or just uncaring.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Move

Looks like everything is going to go quite fast from now on .... where the move is concerned. I have received news that authorisation for the move has been given and we can finally get moving (pun intended) with all the plans we have.
What does this mean? Well, it means that I can finally apply for places in the school I have identified. It means we have to start all the procedure related to the move. We can start getting our papers done. We can start getting visas done. Once various decisions have been made, we can actually plan our trip to Shanghai again in May-June. We can get ready for assessment to be done for Jon. We can start packing - well, putting aside things we will bring to Shanghai.
Much as I had been anxious about getting the authorisation as quickly as possible so that we could get going with things, I am now perplexed about what I need to do. Hubby and I really have to sit down and plan our next move. Problem is - he will be away soon, and I might end up either having to make decisions by myself, or wait till he comes back and delay making decisions.
Next week is going to be a crazy week for me .... and he will be away. So I really have to stay sane in order to not end up being crazy myself.
Seriously, a few things we really have to think about :
  • what to do with the dog and python
  • what to do with the car - sell? to whom?
  • how to settle my housing loan
  • communicating with the income tax dept if necessary
  • medical check up and immunisations
  • my maid - leaving ... and when
  • my mum - how to handle things so that she doesn't end up totally alone
  • what to bring
  • what not to bring
  • etc (too many to really sort out in my head

These are just the major ones that we have to see to. There are numerous other things to consider and do. I am seriously worried .... because that is just me. And the reality has hit me that I will be a very lonely person there, when hubby is away and kids are at school. I am going to miss all that I am used to here. I am going to miss my friends, especially. I am going to miss going to work, even .... just because I will be thinking about my students.

I will be worried about home - here in Malaysia. I will worry about mum, and her well-being. I will worry a lot, I know.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Not going to be titled properly

Not in the mood to blog really but ... I am just feeling down and want to let off a bit of steam. I am disappointed in the girls .... not all of them but some. I am already sacrificing my weekend and holiday to come and practise with them, and yet I have those who don't seem to know that they are not the only ones who have commitments. They waste our time when they don't come. They waste our energy when everyone else who comes does what they are supposed to do but these absentees do not.
I have told them from the beginning, if they want to do this, they have to be committed. Yes I know they are also involved in other projects / programmes in school. But now that nothing else is on, they are still behaving like they have a whole month to get things going. HELLO! The performance is next week. They have not given be a 100% attendance since the beginning. When is it going to happen? What disappoints me the most is some who seem to want to sabotage it so that we cancel the whole thing, when they are the ones who insisted they wanted to stage it. So how now?
I am tired. I don't know what I am doing trying to do this. Perhaps I should have just insisted that I could not take over the production from the beginning. Would have saved me lots of headache and heartache. I keep holding on, hoping that things will be better. It has not. We shall see what happens on Sunday ... Easter Sunday and I am going to be in school for practice. My poor sons have been missing me lots and they don't even know why. And here I have this bunch of girls who are unappreciative of the rest of us who do spend time and effort to make sure this goes on.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Little bird

Is there a little bird whispering sweet nothings into the ears of the powers that be? I am sure there are several such little birds who are ever ready to do the needful to promote their own causes by stepping on others. I am also sure these little birds will not even bat an eye (lid?) as they do their little task of being little minions of the power-hungry.