Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Not a Resolution

Dear Friends,

I know that I have not been blogging as frequently as I should this month. December has always been a busy month for me. The closing of the year, the Christmas festivities and the endless rush of running errands for the coming New Year. Tomorrow is a HISTORIC day. The last day of 2009 before we usher in another year. I know it is going to be another busy day tomorrow, so I decided to pen down my New Year thoughts today.
2009 has been a year that zoomed in and zoomed out for me; in a flash of an eye. It was a year of the impossibles. Just reflecting, it has been a 'coloured' year. A first black President of the United States was inaugurated in January, a much adored black but 'bleached' Michael Jackson died in June and a once respected black golf legend, Tiger Woods who fell from grace because of his many 'holes in one'. I would equate this to a BLACKENED year. The sluggish economy, high inflation, the H1N1 epidemic; has pitched tremendous darkness to our once clear horizons.

Throughout the years, I have not taken long breaks and decided to do so this year. All in all, I would have rested for eleven days before returning to the salt mine again this Monday, in a New Year that is. It was nice waking up in the morning and just sitting serene in my garden. I can't remember the last time I did that. I just realised that I now have squirrels as inhabitants. I never saw them there before. As I was sitting, I realised that LIFE for me has always been a RUSH. I talk fast, I eat fast, I work fast and I like taking the shortest cuts possible; All I cared about was results. I started pondering on what was I grateful and thankful for in 2009.

I am one who do not believe in setting New Year resolutions. Why set them when I am not going to attain them. For me, not having resolutions are fine but what is important is to set aside a time for REFLECTIONS. I believe that if I do not reflect, I am almost sure of repeating the same mistakes in the coming New Year. I have always not planned in making big changes or improvements at any one go. My belief has always been making small improvements monthly and accumulative, a major improvement in twelve months. This will be my New Year's belief and not a RESOLUTION.

For 2010, I am not going to underestimate myself. The way trends are moving, I believe it is going to be an exhilarating year. I am aspiring to make changes albeit RADICAL ones; in both my personal and professional life. I want to BELIEVE big and achieving bigger. My challenge will be paced against Mother Theresa. A poor unknown nun who believed in that change for the impossible. When she died, her native Albania and her home India fought for her body's custody. She made a living impact that led to a bigger impact in her death. Good changes will impact lives better. That is what I would want. In all that I do, I would also do it out of LOVE. By so doing, I believe that I would influence and impact the people and the environment around me. This will be my New Year's belief and not a RESOLUTION.

For 2010, I am going to take time to count my BLESSINGS. I am going to expect less and to appreciate every goodness in people around me. How often in our busy lives, we have learned to make a living but not a life? We have added years to life and not life to years. I am going to learn to wait and not rush.
When 'Auld Lang Syne' is sung tomorrow night, I am no longer going to keep anything for that special occasion because everyday I live will be a special occasion. Life is a chain of moments of enjoyment and not only about survival. Don't save your best perfume for that 'special occasion'; go ahead and spray it on everyday. I challenge all of us to not delay anything that adds laughter and joy to our lives in 2010. FORGIVE that person and FORGET that bad deed. Let's start on a clean slate, as the saying goes. I will sit in my garden more and admire the view without paying much attention to my needs.

THANK YOU for visiting my blog this year. I will continue to write on topics that are dear to me and I will aim to be as prolific as I can. I am grateful for your encouragement and criticism shared.

"CARPE DIEM" Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; and live it to the fullest. On that parting note for 2009, I wish you and your family much blessings for 2010. GOD BLESS!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We Were The Reason

Dear Friends,

I have just returned from Christmas Eve Dinner with the family. This year was a little out of normalcy. Almost every year, we would be feasting on a Christmas turkey and the other accompaniments. We normally would gather as a FAMILY at home and the children would be opening their presents at the stroke of midnight. This year, we broke TRADITION. We decided that Christmas is family time even if we had rib eye, pork belly, lamb, chicken with a lot of Kimchi. We decided to go Korean this time.

The kids are now all downstairs, with much EXCITEMENT as I am blogging this. Charmaine was especially excited clicking away during dinner. She wanted pictures with everyone at dinner. Looking at her and Eugene now, I realised how fast they have grown and matured. They are no longer the little babies I once knew. I remember the time fifteen years ago when Eugene was born. I was in the delivery room with my wife, watching the BIRTH of a life.

CHRISTMAS is the same. It is a reason for celebration, for a baby born 2000 years ago in a manger. In a town called Bethlehem (it still exist today, near Jerusalem, at the West Bank), the baby was named Jesus. The Lord JESUS CHRIST is the real reason why we celebrate Christmas. I have come to know him as my SAVIOUR and HE is my reason for living.

During this celebration, I have always loved the carols sung, the glowing lights on the Christmas tree and all the other pretty decorations. I can hear Eugene playing 'Felix Navidad' on the piano now and I want to go join in the sing along. We would be going to church for the Christmas service tomorrow. In breaking tradition again, I am DEDICATING this song and not a traditional carol for your viewing and enjoyment. I know this song for over 25 years and it holds much meaning to my heart. For indeed, HE is our reason for living.

I take this opportunity in wishing YOU and your loved ones a very "BLESSED CHRISTMAS". Have a wonderful time of celebration and may you be blessed with much PEACE, LOVE AND JOY.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Who is Santa Claus?

Dear Friends,

Time has passed on so quickly this year that I did not even realised that we are already into December. Over dinner a few nights ago, I casually asked the family, "Where is the Christmas Tree?" Excuses after excuses were flung across the table with Charmaine reluctantly admitting, "Dad, EASY to put up but LAZY to tear down". My Mum added, "Everybody is BUSY this year". Even though she is retired, she went 'back to work' in the family's online florist business this year; which explains her reason. Nobody pursued the matter in their 'busyness'.
I guess unanimously the family has agreed that there will NOT BE a tree this year. The putting up of the tree only started with my family the last ten years. When I was young, I remember how my Dad would have a Christmas party every year in the house. It was more a night of gathering for his Mason brothers at that time. After his passing, Mum would not put a tree up because it was like a reminder of those GOOD TIMES when Dad was around. I must agree with Charmaine that setting the tree up, decorating it and lighting it was exciting. However, dismantling it after the New Year was another story all together.

Without the tree, will this year's Christmas be any different? In my family, we are all Christians. I was born into a CHRISTIAN family and I attended Sunday School at a very young age. I was never exposed to any other beliefs and I grew up knowing the TRUE MEANING of Christmas. It is a day to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. However, historians somehow told us that Christ was not actually born on the 25 December. So, I guess it is just like an 'Official Birthday'. In church, we always refer HIS birth to be 2000 years ago. Year after year, it is still 2000 years ago. I chuckle at that fact sometimes.
The BIRTH of Christ is the real meaning of Christmas. Besides that, it is also a time to spread good tidings and joy as the Christmas carol goes. It is also a time of extending compassion and goodwill to all mankind. But, today however, the world has TWISTED this Christmas fact. I find the world using this season as purely commercial. It is largely based on MATERIALISM with no more compassion and goodwill. Children are 'taught' that the bigger their presents the better.

These days, in everybody's busyness; the shorter things are, the better. How can this season be now also known as X'MAS? How can CHRIST be removed from the true meaning of Christ-mas? Ever thought how Santa Claus is now the substitute of 'Christ'-mas? I never taught my children Santa Claus. What does a burly old man in a fur trimmed red suit, who supposedly lives in the North Pole, got to do with the birth of Christ? I never told them how this FICTITIOUS character would come down the chimney at night and leave them presents. They wouldn't believe me either because we have no chimneys in our house. What I have taught them was GRATITUDE. That they should celebrate this season with appreciation for all that they do have.
As for me, I am FOREVER GRATEFUL for:

GOD's love and how he allows me to be successful in all that I do.
My FAMILY's support and how they stand by me and bring joy whenever I am home.
My good HEALTH for I know what stress and depression can bring.
My few good close FRIENDS who are by my side whenever I need them.
My TEAM at work for striving hard with me to ensure that our business objectives are met.
My BOSSES who constantly allows me the chance to prove my worth to be better.
This blog piece is not meant to be religious or judgemental. It is written to stress my belief that Christmas is not about GREED and fiction. Please spell CHRIST-MAS in it's entirety and not take the real meaning out of it. I will now go speak to the kids to reconsider putting up our Christmas tree.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

80s Nostalgia

Dear Friends,

Last Thursday, I was invited to attend EARTH WIND AND FIRE's 40th Anniversary World Tour Concert at Sunway Lagoon. The weather has been unpredictable lately with the monsoon season. It has been raining and on concert night itself it was drizzling. It was a case of, what if the rain continues to pour down on EARTH with great nautical WINDs that would really put out the FIRE that everyone has come to watch. This American R&B group founded in 1969 still has the three original founding members; percussionist Maurice White, falsetto Philip Bailey and funny long haired expressive bassist Verdine White. I had the pleasure of receiving them upon their arrival from Singapore. We had a little conversation that surrounded around their repertoire and I told them I GREW UP listening to them. Maurice jokingly said, "That makes us in the same age group".

Growing up in the EIGHTIES was fun. I never knew the PlayStation nor the Internet. When entertainment was sourced, it was a gathering among friends playing MARBLES or flying kites. I remember how I would crush fluorescent light tubes into pounded powder and soaking them into starch. I would then soak the many feet of kite string into it and put them to dry. I would always emerge winner when my kite string would 'cut' my opponent's and literally sending them 'flying kites'. WHAT INTERNET? If information was needed, the only source were the ENCYCLOPEDIAS. Volumes and volumes that would stand in line on a book rack. I presume it is not cool to purchase encyclopedias today. To improve my command of the language, I read the Reader's Digest.

There were no flat screen plasma televisions then. The bigger and bulkier the TV set signified better social status. We had a BLACK AND WHITE set then. I was excited whenever I went to the granny's because of her coloured set. I still remember watching the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer that was telecast live in 1981. Cool TV brands at that time were Graetz and Telefunken. The only 'cool' thing we possessed was a Sanyo VINYL player. It was cool because it had a cassette player built with it too. It was in 1980, when the world stood still literally, eager to know who actually shot JR EWING. If you know what I am talking about, you are either a Baby Boomer or a Gen X like me. If not, JR was a character out of the series 'DALLAS' whom you either hate or love. Remember; the High Chaparral, Starsky and Hutch, The Man from Atlantis, what about Little House on the Prairie?
As teenagers in the 80s, I detested my mum driving me in her Datsun 120Y to gallivant. I found it more cool to borrow a friend's MOTORCYCLE to ride around. I was caught numerous times riding without a license in my neighbourhood. Even during those years, it was normal for 'them' to ask for a 'kautim', whenever I was stopped. They are happy to literally 'extort' five ringgit from me. And, I would happily ride off. Until today, I can visualise the Dark Blue Mitsubishi Sigma patrol car bearing registration WB* 9402. I never forget bad things that happened to me.

When I needed to go further, the 'SRI JAYA' bus was reliable. Fifty cents would take me from my enclave in SS2 to the Klang bus station. I love frequenting PERTAMA COMPLEX in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman because it had my favorite shops. One was 'WEST POINT 'and the other was 'VICTORIA MUSIC'. If you don't know West Point, what about Edmund Ser, familiar now? It was really cool to wear tailored apparels by Edmund Ser who has just returned from learning fashion design in London. How I would walk around in my fifty ringgit BAGGY PANTS, with the West Point logo prominently sewn to the back of the trousers. I also loved those shirts studded with RING BUTTONS.
BRITISH POP was the way to go then. Victoria Music was the hippest music store. There were no CDs then. I would write the title of the songs that I favorite on a piece of paper, purchase a TDK cassette from them, they would record them for me and I picked it up in five days. Now, I have my own selected compilation of songs from UK's Top of the Pops. My favorite bands were all British. Heard of Adam and the Ants, Culture Club, Duran Duran, Haircut 100, Bronski Beat, Madness, Spandau Ballet or Ultravox? Nobody listened to American stuff unlike now. Earth Wind and Fire was then. Songs like 'Let's Groove', 'Fantasy' and 'After the Love has Gone' are now all CLASSICS. Songs like these were never spun at clubs because there weren't any. They were played at house parties, where teenagers like us were GROOVING away with fruit punches mixed with a little Anchor beer. Not because we couldn't consume the alcohol, it was more the case that we could not afford it with our MENIAL weekly allowance.