Monday, December 30, 2013

Counting my Blessings - 2013 in Reflection

The year comes and goes, and in barely a wink of an eye, it is time to bid farewell to a year and get ready to welcome another year with open arms.
It is not about whether we are ready for time, just like tide, waits for no man and we should always be ready to face each day with new life and a new attitude!

While I have lost touch with my blogs for more than a year and it was painful not being able to share most of my life stories on my blog, but looking back, I was caught up with so much at work and travel that I barely get to sleep that I wonder had I the time to blog. Or turning it the other way around, I could also have found solace in my blogs where I could just quickly pen down my thoughts and things which took shape around me in the whole entire year. While recovering from the major threats on my blogs, I had seen and gone through so much from 2012 to 2013, and while there are many wonderful moments, I have also had my own share of the bitter experiences but I take it all in a positive stride as I take them as part of my learning experiences; and in growing up (or wiser?)

Many things have happened; it is after all, a total of 365 days in a year, and while I was an optimistic person in general, I have too fallen prey to the pessimist side of myself in some of those days. Thankfully, with God's whispers and guidance, I took His hand and got up, held my head up and smiled. It may hurt at some times, but there is always a silver lining. I am starting to go back to my journal of blessings where I list down all the things which made me happy and things which I may not understand at the moment, but will eventually. It was just a little habit I have since young, and I have taken a backseat once in a while, but I am determined to keep it going.
As today is the last day of 2013, as usual, I will take a trip down memory lane to relive all the memories and major events which I have gone through in the year it was, before starting afresh with the New Year tomorrow.

2013....I have
1. Taken on new major responsibilities at work
2. Learnt to work with different people from different areas of expertise
3. Met new friends who became steadfast buddies (including customers/partners)
4. Helped my customers/clients with their issues at work
5. Taken on new challenges in a new environment
6. Changed my perspectives on life
7. Understood more about why things happen the way they did
8. Traveled to places - for work and for leisure (well, mostly for work, but finally I did take that break for leisure)
9. Taken more notice of my own health and well-being (LOL, I have neglected myself sometimes in the midst of the hectic lifestyle)
10. Reconnected with some old friends and people from the past and it felt extremely good
11. Found my true soul friends whom I can trust and rely on
12. Learnt to Let Go (Okay, I have to admit, this is still in progress, but I am working on it)
13. Changed my hairstyle (hehe, nothing major, just minor changes on the waves by my hairstylist)
14. Relocated to new place due to work, and traveled extensively on a monthly basis
15. Revived my blogs and working on NEW directions and blood for my writing (yes, writing rather than blogging alone)
16. Reconnected with my books (I am loving the was like before)
17. Learnt more on tolerances and making time for loved ones
18. Taken business class flight (probably no biggie to some, but how it happened was an amazing story which I will tell in my blog soon)
19. Enjoyed luxury on my travel, dining, etc (an upgrade?)
20. Made changes in my direction of career
21. Gone on an All Girls' trip - yeah it's a first!
22. Opened up more to close friends (not an easy feat for me either)

2013...I have NOT
1. Followed my heart in some of things I should have pursued (I should learn to listen to myself sometimes to avoid those little mistakes)
2. Fully Let Go of everything holding me back (as I've said, I am working on it...I will really try my best)
3. Updated my blogs enough
4. Read or write as much as before (and this saddens me)
5. Improved on my packing or shopping skills (I wonder whether I need to? LOL)
6. Bungee jump or go camping in the wilderness (Not really me, so I can pass)
7. Travel the world (I will get to there someday)
8. Spend enough time with my loved ones (yes, this is something I must work on more)
9. Backed down on my stand and my beliefs (can't decide if this is a good or bad thing yet)
10. Lost my own Identity (yes, I always remind myself)

I have laughed, cried, fell, got up and hurt badly in the course of a year, but it was all part and parcel of life.
Old wounds have resurfaced, but I am not letting them take me down. I just need to deal with them.
It is not easy, but life is a journey in itself and I am still learning to take in things one day at a time.

The world is full of opportunities, and all we need to have is FAITH.
I have so much to say that I can't finish them all in one post, but here's to a rather roller coaster ride of a year in has been GOOD, but looking forward to MORE in 2014~

Goodbye 2013, I have learnt from you....and thank you
Hello 2014....Welcome and looking forward to unwrapping you part by part~ :-)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas isn't Christmas

Christmas isn't Christmas 
Till it happens in your heart.
Somewhere deep inside you 
Is where Christmas really starts.
So give your heart to Jesus, 
You'll discover when you do
That it's Christmas, 
Really Christmas for you

Jesus brings warmth like a winter fire,
A light like a candle's glow.
He's waiting now to come inside
As He did so long ago.

Jesus brings gifts of truth and life
And makes them bloom and grow.
So welcome Him with a song of joy
And when He comes you'll know.

That Christmas isn't Christmas 
Till it happens in your heart.
Somewhere deep inside you
Is where Christmas really starts.
So give your heart to Jesus, 
You'll discover when you do
That it's Christmas, 
Really Christmas for you.
Christmas really Christmas,
Christmas really Christmas for you.


Discovering Christmas every year

Christmas isn't Christmas (Till it happens in your heart) is one of the most beautiful spiritual Christmas which brings a deeper meaning to this wonderful festive season adorned with images of falling snow, boughs of holly, candy canes, Christmas trees, stacks of presents, giant stockings and all the glittering lights.
Often we have been so occupied by the preparations for the festive occasion - shopping, cooking, planning for the gathering/vacation, decorating the house, sending out invitations and selecting nothing but the best attires for church mass/services that we have probably overlooked the most important preparation of all; the spiritual part, which is also what Christmas really is all about.

It is hard not to get carried away with the flamboyant messages sent by the commercial department and the media which makes Christmas such an exciting time of the year, thus attracting even the non-Christians/believers to join in the festive atmosphere as gift exchanges at work or among friends/co-workers/families slowly made its way into majority of the world population. Garlands of tinsels and lights, colorful streamers with sparkly elements and holly crepes are hung across the streets, shopping malls and houses, lending that touch of the Christmas ambiance all over the place.
Then there is the presents hunting where everyone is busy planning and shopping for that perfect gift for their loved ones, to be put under the Christmas tree or to be handed over to their friends during a Christmas party. Everyone is determined to make this the most joyous occasion ever; and to look their best and of course, the fact that it is towards the year end which coincides with the holidays season does contribute to all the high spirits in the air during this time of the year.
It no longer matters that Christmas is truly a religious festival as all everyone wants to do is to have a reason to celebrate; and the season of giving turned to be the right time to call for a celebration.

Being a born Catholic, Christmas has and always will be a religious festival to me as we celebrate the religious meaning of this season above all the gifts giving, parties and gatherings. While we do enjoy the excitement of decorating our humble homes and wrapping those gifts for our loved ones, we do these all while remembering the reason for Christmas. Well, at least, I do.
December is always the favorite time of the year for me (followed by January), and of course, it being the year end and holiday season was definitely good reason enough to enjoy this last month of the calendar year.
Besides all that, I seek the comfort and blessings of Christmas during this season, and begin my journey of spiritual and mental preparation for the magical occasion.

Advent marks the period before Christmas which is where we prepare ourselves for the nativity (coming) of Jesus Christ. To me, it is a time of reflection, prayers and seeking the understanding within ourselves and the religion prior to the grand celebration or welcoming our Lord.
It doesn't make anyone a saint nor being extremely holy in that context when we prepare ourselves for Christmas, but it is an important stage for us to truly be involved in the celebration through the right frame of mind.

As a child, I have known that Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God. We celebrate that He is born to us, and He is known as Our Saviour, who came to save and free us from sins. Then we celebrate with our families; attending midnight mass at the local parish (church), enjoying family meals and opening our Christmas presents. We sing Christmas carols, and my dad and grandmother would tell me that we must thank God for giving us His Only Son, Jesus Christ. Baby Jesus is born on Christmas Day, and He is the Son of God.

While this is truly the main notion of Christmas as a celebration, as I grow older, I started seeing Christmas a little differently year by year. Oh yes, I realized that I started to want to know more about Christmas beneath all that pretty decorations and messages on the surface for I want to understand and be truly involved in celebrating the joy of Christmas. It is after all, the birth of Our Lord and it is already a joyous and jubilant season to begin with.
I began to understand through the lyrics of the Christmas songs, the readings from the Bible and from the priests where I attend masses and I start to connect the points again and again, in a different manner every single year.

It turned out that Christmas was different in my own eyes each year, as I appreciate the gifts from above and all the things that were happening around me; I perceived as blessings. It is unique, really, though not fully explainable in words, but there is just something magical about the season.
It is not about all that fancy stuffs we have around the trees, nor on our doors/houses, nor our presents lists, but much more deeper fulfillment from within the heart.
I felt as though Jesus lives in me; and I could hear myself singing of his glory with a louder echoing sound back to my own ears. I felt humbled before the Son of God, who had died for us, and was our King, but yet close enough to be in our hearts.
There should not be fear, but rather, love to invite Him into our hearts.

This Year's Christmas - Highlight (A Special Moment)
The highlight of this year's Christmas was the magical sight orchestrated by the local church which I attended the midnight mass with my family. Shortly after the grand entrance and as we were singing our Glory to God, the altar server boys rang the short handled bells in their hands as we were standing.
The priests came forward (as in the welcoming the Blessed Sacrament) and they were accepting a small figure from a couple who came up to the bottom of the altar.
As the priest held the clay figure up high, everyone could see that it was the figure of the Baby Jesus.
What happened next somehow pulled a magical string in my heart, as I watched in awe and a stirring emotion as the priests, still holding the baby high and walked towards the cradle by the stable set up by the side of the altar. As they placed baby Jesus at his crib, the stable was instantly lighted up and the priests knelt/bowed before the baby Jesus.
I could not help the tiny tears forming at the corner of my eyes, as I felt warmth and a stirring feeling within my heart as I witnessed the whole episode and needless to say, I was singing to the hymn with full adoration.

It was truly one of the most beautiful moments I have ever seen, and the feeling, oh, the feeling was just inexplicable but I would say I was touched by the Holy Spirit just then?
It was a good feeling; not a bad one, definitely, and one that makes me go warm and comforted - as though I felt safe and loved. It is not a feeling easily told with words, and perhaps the best word to describe it is - Magical?
It struck me that the Son of God did not come to us as a King, cloaked in his finest with loud trumpets blowing and media waiting for his arrival. Rather, he was humbly born in a stable and in hiding with his father and mother, and surrounded by hay. Not the best conditions to be born, and given the circumstances of his time, it would appear to be worse than what was depicted today. There could be animals surrounding him, constantly coming in to take a peek at the newborn, or there could be even animal wastes where he laid.
A picture that many of us would not think of to place our newborns, but this was the Son of God and God sent us this message through His birth that He was like us, born as man.
Our King humbled himself and perhaps even lower than most of us privileged beings in this modern day, and He came to take away our sins and sufferings. He suffered to make our lives better.
He was indeed, a King in all our hearts.

I love the bits and pieces of Christmas; from the giving of gifts to the family reunion and the festive food. Giving of gifts did not signify extravagant or expensive items, but it should rather come from the heart.
A gift that comes from the heart can be felt with the heart in return ~ Me
There are many ways you could give a gift to someone; for instance, even a simple hug or smile or even a little penny could just do the trick. Just remind yourself that Christmas's biggest gift was from up above, and it doesn't come with riches and luxury, but rather, baby Jesus was born in a humble stable which was probably not the most desirable place with the shabby conditions back then during that era. Given that image, He was still our Best GIFT ever for it was a gift of salvation and LOVE.
Giving is not just about physical gifts; for that is not Christmas is truly about.
Gifts from within the heart are far worth more than gifts off the shelves. 
Forgiving others, is another message we get from Christmas for it is all about giving ourselves a break and giving others a second chance. It is not an easy thing to do (I am still learning to), but it will happen if we pray and ask God for guidance, and someday, we could find peace in forgiveness.

Christmas truly isn't Christmas until it happens in your heart, and you feel it in your heart.
It did, in my heart, this year, as I see yet another beautiful side of Christmas. I may have already known all the facts and history of Christmas but that does not mean, I will not experience Christmas from a different perspective each year.
A simple fact of celebrating the birth of Jesus could turn to be a different discovery for me each and every year, and I am glad that I could feel Christmas in my heart.
Christmas is truly different when felt with the is no longer the dazzling lights or tinkling tinsels....but the magical tears and warmth in the heart.
Is Christmas truly Christmas for you?

I pray you too, start feeling Christmas and discover Christmas like I do, every year....

Wishing you and a your family a warm, blessed and magical Christmas!~

Friday, December 13, 2013

Last Christmas

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As we are only a fortnight away from Christmas, I was reminded of a little treat I had during my last Christmas and also how I enjoyed my celebration during the festive season with my loved ones last year.
(I was unable to post this on my blog last year as it was still heavily infected at that time)

I love Christmas, which is no secret that I have shared repeatedly on my blog. Who doesn't anyway? While Christmas was of religious beginnings as it celebrates the birth of our saviour; our Lord Jesus Christ, the celebrations have since extended to even the non-believers due to the jovial nature and extent of the decorations and spirits which just set everyone off in the celebratory mood. It is interesting to see how non-believers are taking the celebrations to such serious lengths that I wonder if they are aware they are celebrating the birth of Jesus and that it would seem like they are embracing our beliefs at the same time. There is no problem at all, as it is always at everyone's liberty to adopt their own beliefs in religion and after all, celebration is meant to lift spirits in the high. Besides, the more the merrier.

Back to my Christmas, I love reminiscing on the celebration the year ahead and then look forward to the upcoming plan for this year's Christmas. I love the memories, and also the sentiments attached to that particular point of time.

I remembered I was happy to welcome my hubby back from his business trip from the States after being away for almost a month. It was indeed a lovely pre-Christmas gift, and to top that, my brother presented us with two complimentary tickets to watch a musical in Sunway Lagoon. I did need that at that time, as I remembered how I was burdened with the stress from work. It had also been a long time since I have been to any such event, and boy, do I love musicals, especially when it had to do with one of my favorite childhood fairytale story - Beauty and the Beast.
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Three days before Christmas, and I looked forward to an early treat and a romantic evening with my hubby (although we have our evening dates all the time). Still, I always liked to make things special and to be in that lovely mood for occasions like these. Perhaps I just love the feeling that just makes me feel good and given my mental state from work, it was just right
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It was not the best musical I have watched yet, but it was good enough as I enjoyed the time and the evening with music and animated dances.

(I have not been surprised with anymore ticket treats this year :-P )

Christmas is always such a magical season and filled with hope and miracles.
I love the colors of Christmas and am looking forward, while preparing myself spiritually for the festivities.
It is after all, a religious festival which holds a dear meaning to all Christians, Catholics and believers for our Lord is born.

The magic of Christmas lies not in the colorful wreaths, boughs of hollies, snow, the tinsels, mistletoes, stockings or even the presents under the Christmas tree, but rather in the whole meaning of the birth of the Son of God.
It is a time of joy and forgiveness, as loved ones reunite with each other to rekindle that spark of bond when they are all busy with their lives. As with many festivals, Christmas is a season for giving and forgiving (pun intended) which is never an easy feat for many.
It is a time to remember the ties and the love shown to us by God, and also by our loved ones.
It is not just purely for celebration but rather for many to understand the true meaning of love, kindness, peace and relationships.

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Miracles will then just happen naturally; not from the skies but sometimes, it comes from our hearts and that magic in our hands as we hold strong to our faith and beliefs.
Let us work that magic to spread peace, love and we prepare ourselves for a merry little Christmas in two weeks....

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Great Expectations

"With great power comes great responsibility"
The phrase was constantly quoted and famously used to address many different situations; but more commonly in careers and personal development.

For many, a promotion at work or advancement in career means an incremental point in one's authority, loosely translated as the increase in power. This will lead to the many ambitious takes in strengthening one's position and by assuming their responsibilities; perhaps in the process, rushing with their attempts to put on many hats simultaneously. It is not surprising what a promotion could do to boost one's ego and pride as they guard that achievement to their heart and soul; looking forward to a better future as they pile on their goals to achieve more. They are proud, with that little milestone of success in their career path and even in life and it sets that positivity and encouragement to move one to do more to achieve further successes.
It is a norm; particularly among high achievers and the more they have, the more they want. They will stop at nothing to work hard towards their goal to achieve the success they have defined or mapped all in their minds. It is nothing negative; as long as in the process, one does not turn destructive or lose themselves in striving towards their aim.

For myself, I am too like that, as I love successes (well, who doesn't?) and I have set myself many goals ever since I was a little girl; pushing myself forward with every step to outdo myself. While many think that I can be hard on myself, and that my parents were probably behind the pressure I put on myself, it is not the case as I am blessed with great and understanding parents who never told me what I should or not do. It was within my liberty and I was given my own space for development and to pursue my own dreams. I was never forced into any stereotyped career choices because 'my parents told me to' or because 'it was good to me'.
For that, I am truly thankful for their support and encouragement for they told me that I could be whoever I want to be; as long as it makes me happy. In fact, when I was working hard towards my goals, my parents would even advise me to take a break and not to be too hard on myself. It was just me; I always wanted to push myself a little further and I wanted more successes for my own sake.
Perhaps it was due to this nature that I had often set high expectations for myself, and also in many things that I do or encounter along my life journey.

I had looked forward to many things in life; that there were times it seemed like I was being rather idealistic. But that would be a fast judgment to pass on me; as I can be realistic when it comes to life, though I would not deny myself harboring many great expectations in my life encounters. Perhaps I have had great opportunities working and meeting many great people and things in my life, that I could set their standards as benchmarks. Yet at the same time, I had reminded myself of the fairness and diversity in the people around the world and that no two people are the same. I have encountered enlightenment from these great inspirations but I have also been through major disappointments which I took as part of my life lessons.

I had made a decision when I was presented with a great opportunity and it seemed surreal of a materialization. Perhaps it was my own great expectations that it later turned out to be a great letdown as well, as I was led through a valley of ignorance and empty promises by people who called themselves leaders. I could not fathom how leadership could sank to such standards, and it beats me to how they made it to their position in the first place. You see, to me, a leader is not just a word or a standard term used to refer to people holding authority to me. I have my own definition of leadership; which does not stray that far away from the dictionary's definition. The general definition holds in that the leader should be leading and the guide but sadly, I have met people who thinks that being a leader means they are not to do anything at all but leave it all to others for it was far beneath their standards.
Perhaps they are not wrong; they were probably misled by their earlier predecessors themselves to have formed this idea of leadership.

I have been told that great expectations would usually lead to letdowns, and that once in a while, I should not set such high expectations. Maybe it is not fair to set high expectations to rate others, but for myself, I do want to aim and set to achieve that end goal I have in my mind; of course, in a realistic manner.
Things have fell short of my expectations and while I am learning to cope and picking up a lesson or two along the way, I have also asked myself questions and also immersed in thoughts to make a decision.
It may not turn out to meet my expectations, but I could definitely do something about rather than just resigning myself to an excuse that it is fated. We can control our destiny; although God does have His plans for us but our minds are there for a reason.

It is a trying time; and I believe that things all happen for a reason. While I am trying to build my perspectives around myself and deciphering my own decisions; wondering whether I have made the right or wrong decision and taking in the perspectives, I do not blame anyone or even myself when things do not go my way. Perhaps it was maturity. but when things go wrong, that is where we learn what is right.
Setting expectations is not a bad thing; in fact, it made me look at the world in different perspectives for there are many reasons worth exploring and life has so much more to offer.
A disappointment is only for a moment, but if I were to stay in that condition, I would have a disappointment out of myself, don't you think?

I will learn, pick it up and walk again, and forming more great expectations along the way....

My say?
With great expectations, come more great accomplishments ~ Christy

A Tale of Two Cities

I am a hybrid.
Yes, a hybrid who belongs to two different places or origins; one who could survive in both environments.

It was a unique term concocted by myself and a friend who was in the same predicament.
In fact, it was far worse for his situation where he had been moving from one home to another over the years since he was born and he had grown so accustomed to his nomad life that he no longer felt it was out of the ordinary. Only problem, he could not define or pinpoint that exact place he would call his home; or the place of his origins, as he had told me in one of our conversations. Of course, many would laugh at this and would hardly call this a predicament for the place of birth would be naturally referred to one's home. However, is that truly the accurate perception of home? What if the birth place was just where the labor took place while the mother happened to be in that place at that time of delivery? The child would grow up elsewhere, does the birth place still constitute the root of one's origins?
It all depends on individual perception as everyone tends to have their own stand on definition, and there is no right or wrong, for I remembered a saying that goes, "A home is the place close to the heart"
Therefore, any place which one regards fondly of could be where they called home. It is a place they longed to be and return to; a place filled with nostalgia and special sentiments that only the person would know of.

For myself, being termed as a hybrid was also because of a confusion spurned by people around me; especially those who had just gotten to know me. They could never remember where I truly belong, and just usually went with their own assumptions, which frankly, I do not attempt to correct nor even feel the least offended of being misunderstood. In fact, there is no misunderstanding or mistake for even I myself could not distinguish my homes from one another. You see, I was born in one state, raised in another, then returned to work and work brought me back and forth between these two states. I have families in both states; and frankly, both are equally as dear to my hearts and I do not ever want to decide on just calling one home. I am proud of having both homes; and that unique sense of familiarity. Furthermore, it was not only these two states which ran in my bloodstream as there is another state which held a slight spot, but I would hardly call it home as I had never been raised nor born in that state.

Being a hybrid is not a derogatory matter; rather it is a label I carry proudly for being able to call two homes to my name. I am definitely of a city breed as both states are cities; and I have been living in both cities for years now. Traveling back and forth between these states have slowly crept into my lifestyle and I have grown so used to it. It is funny how I tend to miss one state when I am in the other; though I long to stay in the state (or both states). Perhaps this is a case of mixed identities?
While one is a complex metropolitan city, the other is a fast growing city in its developments and to me, that is having the best of both worlds and that was probably the main reason I would never feel out of place in either state. (Though of course, in terms of the shopping malls, the metropolitan city definitely has the upper hand).

I have gotten used to the smaller city state; with the smaller geographical area and also the convenience of driving around. The smaller yet closer knit community was another plus point, and perhaps there was a better level of safety in this state as well which makes me feel less worried (though not fully off guard). Don't get me wrong, having grown up in a complex city, safety was never a thing to be regarded lightly and it always pays to be paranoid as the saying "Better be safe than sorry" is all that we have been taught in a city where crime rates are constantly on the rise daily. Working in the state was perhaps less hectic, due to the working attitude and warmth of the locals; not to mention the lesser traffic flow/congestion during the peak hours. Commuting around the state may not be convenient with public transport, and one may need to own their own vehicle but still, traffic was never a major issue (though there was a spike in the traffic recently, and especially during the holidays due to the popularity of the state as a major tourism state in the world - not only Malaysia and Asia).

Therefore, the traffic was the first thing which I jumped at on my recent return to my metropolitan city home for my latest job. While I was happy to be able to return to my loved ones, I quickly realized that my lifestyle and daily routine was about to take on a change. Long hours at work were inevitable, and I was used to it so it was not really an issue. My day starts early and ends late, and most of the time I am dead tired by the time I reached home. The main issue lies in the traffic. One would think that leaving the office long after office hours would mean lesser traffic but no, I remembered how I was once stuck in traffic jam on my way home even though it was already midnight. It was frustrating, especially when I only had a few hours left to sleep before I had to wake up again for work and while I am usually a patient person, that was perhaps just intolerable and unacceptable. Well, I can't complain much, since I am after all, based in a city with ever growing population. It was always about the traffic, then the other major issue was the safety. I read with horror at the sickening crimes taking place almost every other day that makes me sick to the guts. I wonder whether there is still humanity left in the world sometimes. I do have the privilege to travel back to the other home on weekends, and it was like a change from the hustle bustle of the highly complex city. Not that the other city is not bustling, but perhaps it was more homely, due to its smaller geographical area.

Despite the similarities yet stark differences shared by both cities, I still find them dear to my heart as I call them my homes and I smile in agreement when people tell me how blessed I am to be able to call two homes to my name.
I couldn't agree more, after all, that makes it all the more unique, don't you think?

I am a Hybrid....and I am proud of it :-)