I Write To Express

Who I Write For was the first on my Reader when I logged in today. It struck me with questions, many at once, all of a sudden – Who do I write for? Why do I write? Where is this habit going? I started to reflect all that was spent on writing since I was a kid.

I know I have always like writing. I started journal keeping since I was 9. I kept all of them till now. Rereading them feels like browsing through my own autobiography, one that has yet published. I recalled those days when I write for joy and won Best Essay in school and Best Story in English week. I got excited over book fairs and new novels my mother bought for me. Sometimes, I dream in novel lines instead of visuals, I hear narrators reading the dream in my sleep. Stories have become my childhood joy and writing was my self-expression.

I still love writing. It brings me joy when I feel low. It keeps my buzzing mind quiet when I put my thoughts to words. It expands my vocabulary and exercise my linguistic skills. However I feel that something is missing. I think it is the purpose. Because the purpose is what sets the meaning, the goals and the action plans. That is what I need to define.

Who Do I Write For?

Why Do I Write?

I write for myself. I write for the likes of me. I write to keep our mind calm and serene. Those who are like me but have yet written anything can find peace in reading my writings. For my writings spoke on behalf of them. My writings give voices to their inner critics and demons, but also give strengths to their guardian angels and soul to stand up for them. And when they finally succeed in life, even though they have forgotten where the strengths come from, my writings have done their magic intended. That is all that matters.

Where Is This Habit Going?

It is my dream to publish a book. It is my dream to make an income mostly out of my writings. It is my dream to leave a legacy to my readers circle.

The legacy starts with a biography. A biography starts with a fan. A fan starts with a book. A book starts with a story. A story starts with this blog. This blog started with a sentence. That sentence started with a word. That word was once only an idea.

It is happening.

Beauty

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Before the picture above was taken, I was complaining how hot the weather was and took off my spectacles to wipe my face. My friend, the photographer, commented that I look beautiful without spectacles. I replied jokingly, “Ya, ya. Everybody says that to everyone wearing spectacles. It is not the spectacles. It is just because you have never seen me without one.” That was how this awkward facial expression became a photo.

I read from somewhere I can’t remember on Facebook that according to psychologists (so much credible there haha), women are at the peak of their beauty when they are 31. I am turning 31 this year. Many people complimented that I look thinner when I have been gaining weight. Maybe that is due to the fact that I am turning more beautiful. But deep inside I realized that it is not important.

It is not important whether I LOOK beautiful or not. However, it is important that I FEEL beautiful. How is that different?

CONFIDENCE

At this time of life, I have gained more confidence in my skills – cooking, public speaking, communication, leadership, making decision and many more. I have found many of my strengths and overcame or accepted many of my weaknesses and I am open to discovering new ones. I have, not only known what I like and what I hate, but faced them decisively. There are still many rooms for improvement, but I feel more relax in my life journey. I don’t care about looking beautiful anymore because I feel beautiful as I am.

SELF ESTEEM

I have stopped comparing myself to other people in terms of achievements, goals and worth. I have stopped asking “How do I look?” to my friends. I listened to feedbacks without taking them personally. I acknowledge my tribe and adjust my circles accordingly. I define myself in my own terms – my dreams, my goals and my priorities. I feel beautiful without much effort and still feel so without acknowledgement.

MINIMALISM

Discovering self has helped so much in living a minimalist life. Less clothes. Less commitment. Less things. Less spending. Less people. Quality, hand-tailored clothes that compliment my personality. Worthwhile commitments that support the cause that I believe in. Quality, personalized, important things that add value to my daily life. Manageable and conscious personal finance. Core people who support my well-being and uplift my spirit. These have been an empowering journey. I wear clothes that I feel most beautiful in, which limits to few in my wardrobe and simple make-up. I feel beautiful being with people who accept my beauty. I feel beautiful because life has become more meaningful without clutters.

I feel beautiful because I feel empowered from within. I no longer emphasize on looking beautiful. This is the kind of life that I used to look forward too. Right now, I am enjoying this moment.

7 Positives Only Introverts Would Understand

Source: LifeHack.org

There’s an avalanche of information about introverts on the web. The great thing about it is that it helps a lot of people realize their own introverted tendencies. Many introverts are beginning to understand why situations commonly perceived as problems by many are, well, simply non-problems for them. Here are some of those positives only introverts would understand.

1. They love cancelled parties.

Introverts love cancelled parties. Okay, maybe love is too strong a word. But an introvert really wouldn’t mind if a big party he was invited to suddenly got cancelled or postponed.

Partying with a big group of people for a long period of time zaps an introvert’s energy. To expend less energy, introverts enjoy one-on-one conversations instead of group activities. You may know someone who’s dubbed as a “kill joy” because he wants to leave a party early. Stop the name-calling and consider that maybe that person is just tired and needs to recharge by spending some time by himself. He could be an introvert.

2. They’re cool with shutting up.

Society has a funny perception of silence. It’s as if something is terribly wrong if someone just wants to sit quietly by himself.

Remember that there is such a thing as companionable silence. It’s when two people are so relaxed and comfortable with each other that no words need to be spoken. And there’s solitude too, which is the creative’s refuge.

Introverts like silence and solitude because it’s during quiet times that many people, not just introverts, produce billion-dollar ideas, relax their minds, and recharge their bodies to face another day.

3. They get high (with energy) on being alone.

No invites on a Friday night? No problem!

While most people would be horrified and perhaps acutely depressed at the thought of spending the weekend minus social activities, your typical introvert is already getting started on his reading or movie list. That, or he’s already out hiking, hanging out at a bookshop, gardening, or writing weird poetry at the cafe.

But remember that being alone doesn’t equate to loneliness. The thing is, introverts need “alone time” for them to conserve their energy. This doesn’t mean that they’re alone all the time. Balance is key as Marti Olsen Laney explains in her book, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World,“Introverts need to balance their alone time with outside time, or they can lose other perspectives and connections.”

4. They’re comfortable with eating alone.

Dining alone has such a bad reputation, doesn’t it? Heaven forbid you eat a meal without a living human body next to you!

For most introverts, solo dining is a relaxing experience and a good opportunity to truly enjoy a meal in peace. Bear in mind that introverts have a low threshold for stimulation and are easily distracted. It’s a good thing people are starting to realize the value of dining in peace, like this restaurant.

5. They just like to watch.

As funny as that may sound, they do.

Introverts are observant by nature. They’re the quiet ones who prefer to sit at the sidelines and observe those around them. And no, they’re not judging people when they do this. This also doesn’t mean that introverts are wallflowers. They can talk your ear off if the topic is something they’re passionate or know a lot about. They simply don’t feel the need nor have the energy to be social butterflies.

As Susan Cain puts it, “We’re not anti-social; we’re just differently social.”

6. They have few friends.

More than anyone else, introverts are masters at prioritizing quality over quantity, especially when it comes to friends. They form  fewer but deeper relationships with people. Amazingly though, many introverts thrive in the online world. Perhaps because online communication and networking gives them more time to think and reflect about how to express their responses as compared to real-world conversations.

7. They take it slow.

Most of the time, taking things slow is seen as a weakness and the ability to “think on your feet” is favored over the ability to reflect. But introverts prefer to do things little by little and think carefully before making big decisions. The innate gifts of slowing down and tuning into their inner world and reflecting on experiences and situations allow them to better understand other people and empathize.

Introverts are good at unsettling extroverts without even trying. They can appear mysterious and don’t show much reaction or facial expression. So take the time to get to know someone and learn what makes them tick. Do this especially when your personality leans toward extroversion. Pretty soon these positives may hold true for you as well.

My Mistake

I had made a mistake when I posted 30-Day Challenge into this blog a few weeks ago. I announced a commitment that I wasn’t confident to keep. As life got into me and time crunched my time-management skills, I lost the energy and gave up on keeping the commitment.

As I was blaming myself for the mistake, I stumbled into this one great video by Derek Sivers on TED Talks:

The basic idea seemed simple, yet it is a common mistake many people make. And Derek Sivers has put his extensive research into an instant applicable resolution anyone can make – stop telling people our goals. As simple as that.

This used to be my way of doing when I was still in school. I was born into a culture where telling what you have yet done is either seen as boasting or all-talks. You only announced something when it’s confirmed. But as I grow up and entered university, I had unlearned this way and was taught about self confidence. Self confidence is undeniably good, except for the fact that announcing goals is considered one best ways to portray self confidence. In this instance, as explained in the video, it is not necessarily that way.

My views would never be the same, because I had managed to live with both ways. The best thing about this is I gained both perspectives. Thus, I can distinguish circumstances that requires any of the two ways. For instance, shared goal is announced to motivate people in our group. As a President of a club, one needs to communicate his/her personal goal for the club to motivate others in the club.

The mistake that I’ve made can’t be undone. And since I never delete any post in this blog (so far) this mistake will be recorded forever here. But the beauty about being human is our ability to forget. Even though this post will be forever recorded, I will learn to forget the uncomfortable feelings of admitting a mistake. And the best thing about this is, humans learn best from mistakes. It drives our growth.

I’ll just start over.

The Gift of Silence

Call me wood
for not being able to show emotions.

Laugh at me
when I don’t show my disappointments.

Tell me I’m dull
when I keep quiet to critics.

Say I’m boring
for not getting angry.

Label me stupid
for smiling at negative comments.

Accuse me deaf
when I appear not listening.

How do you know I’m not disappointed?
How do you know I’m not sad?
How do you know I’m not angry?
How do you know I’m not intimidated?
How do you tell the difference?

You don’t.
You judge.
You assume.
All the time.

I embrace the gift of silence
when emotions surge through me.

I choose not to tell
what I don’t want to tell.

I’m different
than you.
It is simply this.

Stop it.
Don’t judge.
Don’t assume.
No more.
I’m tired. Insomniac.

Don’t probe me
when I’m in the nothing box.
For the gift of silence
in order to be grateful,
must be celebrated
in silence.

Confidence

There is something attractive about people in their 40s and 50s. Their confidence. So appealing. So mesmerizing.

The way they tell things. The way they walk. The aura that they shed. The way they look at people around them. Especially, the way they give their opinions or state their stands in issues – the sureness, the way they know, the anticipated response.

It is not the same confidence that we can see in young people. Most young people are confident because they believe that they are the next big thing – they dream that and they work to achieving that. But the confidence that I see in mid-40s and 50s people are confidence that someone can only gain with age.

They don’t have to believe, because it is either they are THE BIG thing or they have seen so many BIG THINGs. The confidence that they gain by living through those BIG THINGs.

And in some instances when they seem to be confused or undecided, I am usually fooled. I am fooled when I almost believed that they are actually indecisive. When I look closely, there are actually the subtly flickered eyes and twitched nose and studded teeth and pursed lips. The subtle signs where they want us to learn making our own decision, so they pretend undecided. I can almost hear they say, “I don’t want to go through this anymore. Now is your time, your turn. Come on. Think. Hurry up. Make up your mind.”

They might want to say, “You see those lines in front of you. We have passed those ‘lines’. That is how we become what we are now. That is what you must go through. We’ll be waiting outside the lines. Come on.”

Notice how some people look more attractive as they age? That is the result of ‘the’ confidence.

  

    

    

I am going to let this entry sit in my blog for twenty years or so and see whether I’ll get ‘the’ confidence then. Confidence is not everything. But this is one of the things I want to check on when I got older, God willing. How does it feel? Will I remember the less confident, young me? I’ll see 🙂

Commitment to People

Just a few weeks back, I read a quote from a famous people, quoted in Facebook that goes something like this:

Make commitment to people. If you make commitment to money, people go away from you. If you make commitment to people, both money and people stick to you.

These lines struck me, made me paused my scroll when I saw it the first time. I was reminded to those times when I kept saying “I’m not a people person”. Maybe, I think, maybe… it is because I think that a relationship must be built on a need or for a cause.

In my case, that motivation may not be money. But I’ve always thought that to start a relationship, I must put the effort, thus I found it a little bit of an obligation. The obligation to reach back to the other person, the obligation to start the conversation and keep it moving and so many other things that my mind could made up (not surprisingly, they are all in my mind). But the truth is I had forgot the deal behind:

hablum min Allah wa hablum min an-nas

I had forgotten that the need to hold to HIS ‘rope’, the need to remember HIM also includes when I’m connecting to other people. I forgot the fact that human’s my mind and heart are also HIS. I forgot all these when I don’t feel like connecting to strangers around me.

I also forgot that the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught us to extend silaturrahim (brotherhood) and to greet people warmly because those are the basics of connecting with people around us in peace and kind way.

Surprisingly, though not coincidentally *SubhanALLAH*, not many days later, a friend reminded me of something almost similar. This friend said:

Our mistake in doing good things, anything, lies in our perspective. We focus on making the systems work. We focus on keeping to the rules. We do not focus on the relationship-building, the people skills and out networks or contacts.

Again, something about making commitment to people. Systems may crumble but as long as noble people exist, new and better systems can be re-built. Rules may change, but noble people change them for better. People evolve, but systems and rules don’t evolve unless humans make them so. It is important to ‘produce’ good people and keep them in your circle. Some big businesses recognize this and that’s why they spend a lot on building their ‘people’.

Networking, connecting, relationship-building or whatever term you want to call it is something that we hear almost everyday. That’s why Facebook was created. That’s the basis of every business. That’s what salespersons do in their job. But now, I have a fresh perspective on the foundation or the right philosophy on this subject.

Earlier today, I went to my branch office at Menara Public JB. As I observe people, some familiar, some strangers, I can’t help noticing. Some people smiled at me and some people even avoided my eye-contact. Since most of those coming there are working the same job as mine, salesperson, I can’t avoid thinking, “Do these people really make commitment to people sincerely?” They mind their own business here, why? Because UTCs are surely not their prospective clients? Because other people other than prospective clients are not important so there is no need to notice them?

It is not my job to judge others. But this situation taught me to evaluate the way I connect to people. Sincerity. Do I make friends or do I seek benefits?

Do I do this for me or sincerely?

A Personal Record

I’m not a competitive person. I learned that it is not good to compare self with other person. We must believe that each human is born unique. Not winning doesn’t mean one is not unique.

Being brought up by a system where each student is given a number to signify their achievements in class, it is hard for me to adapt myself to non-competitiveness, though. Sometimes, I get jealous seeing my friends driving new cars, feel inferior when someone buys new house and feel down when comparing my achievements in career to my friends’. It takes a long time for me to brush away those unhappy thoughts from my mind every time they occur.

Nevertheless, I keep my vibe high by doing a simple thing – I write or keep  a memento every time I break a personal record. The idea is to make me remember every good feeling that comes with those personal achievement, the happy thought that comes every time I break a mental barrier.

The latest personal record that I manage to break is hiking a two-hour track with bare feet. For me, it took three solid hours. It is because I’m not used to walking barefooted and the track is steep and littered with  gravels on the way down.

This record-break was unintentional. I was involved in a training program as a facilitator. The day they went hiking was supposed to be my final day, which means I was supposed to went home, not joining them. That was why I don’t bring my sneakers. But the thought of staying alone at the camp while they were having fun up there did not make me happy at all, so I decided to join.

Far from halfway along the journey, I actually nearly gave up. But to go back is not a choice at all. We’ve went so far up and going back alone is worse. So I continued on. The way down is the worst. While they all slide down easily and ran on the gravel-littered track, I need to walk very slowly so I won’t hurt my feet.

The track ended at sea shore. The sound of sea waves bring indescribably extreme relief to my heart. Almost equivalent to hearing Maghrib prayer call on my first day of fasting when I was a child. And the drink and meal that we had afterwards felt like the best I ever had in months.

My feet ached for a week or so. But the satisfaction is phenomenal.

To be grateful and happy of life, we must experience the extreme.

This is the only way – by losing them – to realize that every single thing we have now is so precious. This is the feeling that I want to keep in my personal record. It may not be special, but in my book, it IS special.

The view from the peak

Different World?

I’m amazed of some people’s ability to have different common sense of two classes of the same part of world.

When a child steals, he will be punished when caught. But when a person from higher class steals the people money, these ‘some’ people justify that “as long as that person does a good job in managing the office and that person let us live happily, we should be OK”.

When commoners are given money, it’s called subsidy. When companies are given money, it is called bail-out. The latter sounds legitimate.

When  a student cheats in examination papers, he is punished. When some authority cheats on papers, it is legal according to some jurisdiction.

Funny how people succumb to conditioning.

Magic and Ghosts

“I saw shadows of tree branches in my bedroom, reflected by the moonlight coming from the window.”

“What did the ghost look like?”

“Silly! That tree shadows were the ghosts. There was no tree for at least 20 yards from the house!”

– Her Fearful Symmetry by Aundrey Niffinneger –

We are conditioned that ghosts are terrifying, ugly and haunting. One of the reasons is, simply, the films say so. We were conditioned to believe so. Just like we were conditioned to believe that currency is actual money, credit card is modern lifestyle and make-ups make girls look pretty. Audrey Niffinneger argues that in her book. Ghosts can be beautiful, their presence can be comforting and they might long for friends as much as humans do.

The same goes with magic. The existence of David Copperfield and some other popular illusionists (shows my lack of general knowledge on the subject :-P), though inspiring, may have narrowed down the definition of magic. Magic doesn’t have to happen in a blink of an eye. Magic doesn’t have to have audience to validate it. Magic doesn’t have to be entertaining. Those are for pop culture.

To me, magic happens almost everyday in my life. It is because of the way I see it. Magic is when my mother called me and say, “You don’t have enough money now, do you?” just when I need it the most. Magic is when I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a text message from an old friend when my phone was in silent mode and the text went “I suddenly remember you.” Magic is when I was reminded of my friend and when I called, she said she was just talking about me with her friend.

Thinking about things like this makes me want to turn back and review all of my definitions about life. Is my definition of love correct? Is my definition of religion correct? Or, are they just another conditions being put in my mind because of they way I was brought up, educated or what I read? They all begin with that Her Fearful Symmetry book. I look deeper. I began to see more. I realized more things. Praises to HIM.

Consciousness

I attended a political talk few weeks back. When it was the third speaker, I was already seated in the car, half-asleep but still listening to the speaker through the window and able to see him through the windscreen. There were no more than a hundred people around for it was nearly midnight at that time. Furthermore, the talk is organized in a village somewhere in Kota Tinggi where that many people at that particular time is considered many.

My mind wandered as the speaker talk about the issue of Indonesians maid new policy demanded by the Indonesia government to Malaysia government. My eyes fell on the clear night sky, exactly on my favorite stars, The Big Dipper. I don’t remember which stars, but it was either Dubhe or Merak, which was not shining brightly that night, as if unsure whether he should be shining in full force or not. Suddenly, as if aware that they are being gazed at, one of the stars twinkled. I felt as if it was teasing me, telling me, “Oh, you thought my friend there is hesitant. What about you?”

Hesitant

An idea had been in my mind for a few days at that time. I’ve been evaluating myself, specifically on my involvement in communities, organizations and businesses – my involvement with people with the same vision of mine. We try to make changes to the world. In these fields that I’m in, there are not many young people. Where there are, not many of them stay long enough. It is because they are not easy and they are not merciful. That’s how real life is.

I was hesitant because as I venture deeper into this path, the responsibilities grew heavier and I need to handle more things with the exact same amount of time I always had – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I felt that I’ve had more than I can grasp in my hand and thus, some of them slipped and fell crashing to the ground with not-so-beautiful results.

Some of the roles that I took, they were not easy to let go because my withdrawal will involve many people and cause distractions to the work schedule. Furthermore, it is not easy to get people to do volunteer works. Also, the principle of selfless bothered my mind.

Self

Everybody has his/her own wants and needs. It is natural for human being to want to have comfortable, clean and cozy home, some time for leisure and time to spend with family. I felt that I’m losing those. I felt the need to better the society, but I haven’t find the formula for myself to live my life in balance by doing that. This is why I was evaluating my commitments.

Purpose

I believe in what I do because I am very sure of my purposes in life. This, I’m so grateful of. Because I found out that not many people have a clearly defined purpose in life. I had the blessings of learning from great teachers, reading great books and meeting great people in early age that I learned how purpose alone can be the greatest motivation.

It is just that his time I got confused of doing them all at the same time or taking them one at a time, though. I resolved that I must learn to let go. Learn to back off and not feeling guilty about it. I resolved that I must improve my time management skills by recalculating my speed of doing work and plan based on that personal ability and also, embracing the philosophy of underachieving.

And so…

I did as I resolved. It is now to early to assume that I have succeeded in managing my life schedule. But I believe this will turn out better in many areas than before. I remember reading about Rebecca in First Things First when she gave birth to her daughter, she let go of some of her tasks and still enjoy her time.

Now when I see the Big Dipper, I remembered that in every few thousand years the stars will re-arranged themselves – due to the galactic system movements – and form a new shape. But in the end, they still serve their purposes – to shine, to guide and many more. I might change my way of doing things, but in the end, I make sure I serve the same purposes I’ve set.

A friend reminded me of [3:159] earlier this morning:

“…And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely (upon Him).”

Cici Wawa Maisara

Mulan Jamilah

Doraemon

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