Fab at Forty

Well, technically, I just turned 41 yesterday.

I have never written an exclusively birthday-related post before, because left on my own, my birthday is just like any other normal day. I would wake up in the morning, and go… oh, today’s my birthday. Then, I would do what I do on any other day.

However, this year, I feel different. Since the beginning of the year, I wanted to do things differently. When do I want to do the things I have always wanted to do? Do I wait until the right time, or do I do them now? I decided to do them now, because actually, we create the right time ourselves, when we are ready.

A change in direction

I have always wanted to do what I love, and go where I want to go. Unfortunately, I did not have the guts, because like everybody around me, I was brought up to cherish the security of the 9-to-5 job and look forward to the pay cheque at the end of the month.

I would land a piece of freelance work once in a while, but it was never enough to warrant giving up my full-time job… till now. Good fortune finally smiled on me, and I was seeing the blossoming of abundance and opportunity at last. The universe was most kind.

So, in mid-2017, I decided to resign and be a freelance writer. I became a full-fledged freelance writer right before my 41st birthday. I estimated that my earnings would be finally enough to sustain me in my new direction. I like to read business, career and financial articles from time to time, and I have come across a disturbing trend. When people earn more money as their income increases over the years, their expenditure would naturally grow with this increase in income. I decided that this did not have to be so. I wanted to live a simple life, and I wanted to reduce my expenditure, in line with being self-employed.

What do people do on their birthday?

Well, this birthday turned out to be the busiest ever. I decided that I wanted to start the day by pampering myself. So, I went for a facial. After treating myself to a nice birthday lunch of sushi and matcha ice cream, it was time to work, because well, my birthday did not have to be all about me.

I wanted to do something I enjoyed on my birthday, and one of the things I enjoyed most was volunteer work. I had with me some donations from an earlier Sparkles of Heart meditation at the Golden Space. The recipient selected by Beatrice for this session was SUKA Society. I had called a few days earlier to find out what they needed at this moment in time. I was informed that the money could go towards buying food for the food bank for refugee children. They gave me a list of what they needed – rice, pasta, red kidney beans, tomato puree, and cooking oil. The contact person emailed me a list complete with photos, too.

So, I went shopping in TESCO, because I was informed that the TESCO brand red kidney beans were most suitable for the refugees. Most urbanites in Kuala Lumpur would think that RM376 was a tiny amount, but with the right approach, it could actually feed a whole lot of people.

Shopping cart for SUKA1In fact, RM376 bought us:

1. 10 bags of rice (5kg)
2. 20 packs of pasta
3. 5 bottles of oil (5kg)
4. 14 tins of red kidney beans (400g)
5. 11 tins of tomato puree (215g)

So never underestimate our ability to stretch our ringgits!

I was really satisfied that I had filled up the shopping cart. Pushing the full trolley around the hypermarket and loading and unloading the goods was a workout by itself, no gym required. Luckily the wheels did not break before I reached the car in the basement.

Waze brought me right to the doorstep of the SUKA Society office, and the staff were pleased to help me unload the goods and bring them all to the storeroom where they kept the items for the food bank.

Birthday surprise1
Surprise party mastermind (left) and surprised birthday girl (right)

An unexpected surprise

After freshening up, it was time to go for El Herington’s free preview at the Golden Space. El came all the way from Hawaii, and her sessions were quite interesting.

When I arrived, my meditation classmates literally pounced on me with a cake and sang the birthday song. That was really sweet and thoughtful of them. ❤ I don’t remember the last time somebody threw me a surprise party. 🙂

I am really happy to know all of these nice people at the Golden Space, who are supportive, kind, thoughtful and non-judgemental. They turned my good day into a super awesome day. The cake was light and creamy and delicious, too.

El Herington’s session was really nice, as always. I hope she will come again next year.

Opportunity knocks

When I went back, I found that my application to be a Shutterstock Contributor had finally been approved. I had to take a photo of my passport for them to verify my identity, before they could approve me! It was a very pleasant end to the day.

To find my photos on Shutterstock, click here.

Earlier, at dinnertime, I received a call from a new client, confirming that I will be joining their team of freelance writers, too. This birthday was becoming the best one ever!

Busting myths

When I turned 40, I felt just like when I was 30, except that now, with wisdom acquired from my experiences, I had learnt to appreciate my body and take better care of myself. As a result, at 40, I was healthier, stronger and fitter than I was at 30, or even 20.

So, ladies in your 20s and 30s, do not believe it when people tell you that you are old and over the hill at 40. It is simply not true. Every individual is unique and different, but if you take care of yourself properly – eat healthy food, exercise regularly, get enough rest, and have a positive mindset, you will be all right.

I have seen too many people worry too much about other people and what they think and perceive, and this has unfortunately become the focal point of their existence – to please others, to be better than others, to prove others wrong, etc. Stop worrying about how people look at you and what people think of you, because you can never please everybody. Best thing to do is to be comfortable with yourself and be happy.

Always make it a point to schedule some ‘me’ time to do things you enjoy. It could be anything, from a manicure, to a sewing class, or learning self defense moves. As long as it makes you happy, and gives you some satisfaction, then you are on the right track.

Looking forward

Who knows what lurks around the corner? It is my second month as a freelance writer, but I am getting the hang of it, and settling in, slowly but surely.

I have decided not to fret too much about the details of where I am going or where I will end up. Instead, I am going to enjoy my life in the here and now, and spend more quality time doing meaningful things that enrich my life. Perhaps there is an adventure waiting for me around the corner. 😉

 

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#BeWoW – Diary of a Quirky Girl, 4.03.2015

OK, this is the first time I’m participating in the #BeWow blogshare started by RonovanWrites. BeWoW stands for Be Wonderful on Wednesday. The idea is to post something nice or wonderful on Wednesdays to brighten up someone’s day. It could be a  wonderful experience, a fond memory, something inspirational or motivational, etc.

Today, I’d like to add my third instalment of my experimental diary writing as part of the #BeWoW blogshare. 🙂

Diary of a Quirky Girl, 4.03.2015

Here’s the blog post in plain text, in case you don’t like reading it in the coloured background above:

Wednesday, 4.03.2015

Exercise was never my kind of thing when I was young. I was an awkward kid who twisted both ankles fairly regularly, so much so that my ankles finally built resistance to getting twisted. Nowadays, after I trip and fall, or just twist an ankle, I can just get up, shake the seemingly hurt ankle, do my weird kicking motion, and it’ll be just fine.

In Form 4, an English teacher told me nonchalantly that I was a late bloomer. Thinking back, I had the amusing thought that this probably encompassed my interest in the unrelated topic of exercise as well. My interest started at 30, when I registered for my first yoga class on 26 September 2006. I think discovering yoga was almost like falling in love. It was something that fascinated me; I see it in magazines, on TV and on websites. I’ve wanted to try it for ages, but never did. Of course, the first few weeks could only be described as the most daunting physical challenge of my life. I could not fathom tying myself into knots, standing on my head, or doing the handstand. Some days, I would just feel exhausted, but on other days, I felt queasy. It was all I could do to keep from puking towards the end of class. But I kept at it, and little by little, my body stopped fighting it and accepted the practice. After that, it felt good and energizing. In relaxing classes with breathing exercises, stretching and meditation, I would emerge totally calm and relaxed. It’s something great I look forward to at the end of a tiring work day. It’s been eight years and counting, and my interest in yoga has continued unabated. Although I can never accomplish some of the anti-gravity and mind-boggling poses, I am satisfied knowing that the practice has contributed to a happier and healthier me.

Then, I developed an interest in walkathons. I signed up for the 7-km Kordel’s Walk for Healthy Joints in 2011 and never looked back since. I signed up for all manner of walkathons – the usual distances were 3 km, 5km and 7km. Of course, as with a new physical challenge, it was hard the first few years, but I got progressively better at it.

The ultimate challenge arrived on the day I decided to join a run. I’ll admit that I hated running. I had the fear that I would fall and hurt myself, as in my school days. But sign up, I did. The first run I signed up for was the famous Energizer Night Race 2014, 7 months ago, in August 2014. The first thing that attracted me was the free headlamp. Ha-ha… Yes, I was enticed to join a run by a headlamp. I laugh at the memory till this day. I practised for it for a few weeks, walking and jogging from 3 km to 5 km in the evenings. Since it was my first race, and I was certain that I was in no danger of winning anything, I decided to sign up for the shortest distance (5 km) and do my best to not finish last. It turned out to be extremely challenging and exciting. In its 4th year, the run attracted 15,000 participants and we lit up the night with my little headlamps. No, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I walk and jog. It’s a race, but that doesn’t mean we need to run the whole way. My objective is to live an active and healthy lifestyle, and so far, it’s been great. At 37, I overcame my fear of running and falling flat on my face, and did not finish last. Hurray! 😀

Diary of a Quirky Girl, 9.02.2015

When I was in school, my mum gave me a small book of quotes. She used it when she was in school, and she thought I might have some use for it. When she gave it to me, it had already started to turn brown and brittle around the edges, and the binding was starting to come apart.

I did flip the little book open sometimes and look up quotes according to a chosen topic, or just flip to some random page. The book, now more decomposed, is somewhere in one of my book boxes in the store room, but I still remember some of my favourite quotes from its pages.

My favourite of all the quotes is by George Linnaeus Banks:

Quote by G.L. Banks

In fact, I liked the quote so much that I put it on the dedication page of my thesis. I felt it was very meaningful, and personified my outlook in life.

The second quote I liked from the book is short and simple, but profound:

Quote by Oscar Wilde

 

The quote is true and it shows how one’s outlook significantly affects one’s life. The optimist sees all that is positive and good, while the pessimist wallows in resentment and discontent at all the things that didn’t go his/her way.

You only live this life once. Would you choose to be happy or unhappy all the time? I choose the former option. What about you?

 

Diary of a Quirky Girl, 6.02.2015

My colleague once told me that I should start writing a diary, because my short non-work e-mails made her laugh. I should write the funny stuff down before I forget them, right? 🙂  Okay, I’m flattered that someone said I’m funny. 🙂

So, today I decided to start that diary thing that was first suggested like two years ago. Here it goes…

If you can’t see the words clearly, please click on the image to read it in larger print. I’m experimenting with Adobe Illustrator for this one. I think I have to use an image in portrait next time.

The lovely background image is from http://www.bloggang.com/viewblog.php?id=lovelovelovely&group=26
The lovely background image is from http://www.bloggang.com/viewblog.php?id=lovelovelovely&group=26

If you just want to read it as a normal blog post, here it is:

Diary of a Quirky Girl

Friday, 6 February 2015

My car’s air-conditioning died 3 days ago. It’s not that I like saunas. I don’t. But the day the air-con died, I went to a car service centre and the foreman said I’d have to pay over RM1,000 to get a new air-con compressor. I imagined flushing the bonus I was going to get three months from now down the toilet. I was speechless, and he gave me his most sympathetic look. Luckily, he asked me to come back the next day, because it was almost closing time.

Nope, this won’t do. It was time to get a second opinion. So, I took Friday afternoon off from work, and went to an automobile air-con service shop not far from home. The whole row of motley car service shops was empty, except for this one. It had like 5 cars and lorries parked all around it, and one shiny red Peugeot parked inside.

At first, the boss ignored me. I thought he couldn’t hear me. After I spoke louder, he told me what I wanted to know – the shop closes at 6pm daily, and yes, he can fix my car before then. So, I hung around. Actually I was standing here and there among the tools and parts strewn all over the blackened oil-soaked cement floor. Then, he finally asked me to start the engine. He popped open the bonnet, and in no time, pronounced that the cooling coil was the culprit. RM400 for an original, he said. Then, more waiting. Sleepy and tired after my auto sauna, I went in and sat on one of the flimsy cheap plastic chairs in front of the one and only desk in the workshop. I was surrounded by compressors and all manner of parts and bits of things.

Then, I don’t know what came over me, but I sat with my left side to the back of the chair, arm over the back. Then I put my head on that arm and went promptly to sleep. What ensued was quite fascinating. Between my bouts of semi-consciousness and total blackness, comparable to a drunken stupor without alcohol, I saw that the boss had started work on my car once I started to snooze. I also noticed through the haze of sleep that the workers and other customers were peering curiously at me. What? Never seen a girl before?

After a while, I moved from the back of the chair to the desk and put my bag on top, then my head on the bag. It was then that the boss came and sat down in front of me.

“Your car’s ready,” he said in his gruff voice. He was smiling, clearly amused.

I said, “Yeah, really?”

He opened the bill book and wrote. His blackened fingers left imprints all over the page. RM230 was his final figure. It wasn’t even the cooling coil. It was just the hose connected to it. I paid up. Wow, what a far cry from RM1,000. I thanked my lucky stars.

I checked the time. It was 4.30 pm. Did I like sleep for half an hour or an hour? Time was kind of fuzzy after I dozed off.

~KHM~