Hiatuses can create new insights



I have been facilitating the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for three and a half years now, and after a break from it for about three months, I am teaching a class yesterday and today. 

And I realise that sometimes a long break is good.

I did think to myself that I have watched those videos so many times that I would have already milked them thoroughly for lessons and applications. 

I was wrong. 

As I was watching those videos again today, I am getting new insights. And I did use them quite well in my debriefs. 

Except that I can’t remember them anymore for me to include them here. What I need to do the next time I do it is to pen down my thoughts for I trust that I will get those insights again, or at least I hope I will. 

And that will be in the next month, in my next session. 

pearlie

I Can Speak ★★★★★


I Can Speak (2017)

I found out about this movie quite awhile ago while it’s still in production and I have been looking forward to watching it for three reasons: the actress, the actor and the plot about one teaching the other the English language. 

The movie wasn’t available in the channels I subscribed to but I finally watched it today, not with English subtitles but Indonesian! It is indeed a blessing to know several languages and with the Malay language—that I grew up learning and using in school—being almost but not entirely similar to Indonesian, I was able to follow the plot quite easily until the end. 

It is a very good movie. 

It is placed under the comedy and drama genre. And as far as comedy is concerned, the actress Na Moon-Hee was just brilliant. I laughed so much there were two instances where I had to pause the movie so I can have a good laugh. 

And the drama is obviously good with the excellent acting, character and story. I was moved when Na Moon-Hee gave a heart rendering speech to seek the Japanese’s apology for the sake of the Comfort Women. 

I will watch it again when it comes with English subtitles. 

By the way, as it goes with the uniqueness of the Korean language, what you see in the poster above, other than 아이캔 스피크 (ai kaen seupikeu) for “I Can Speak”, you also see the words “하우 아유?” (ha u a yu) for “How are you?”, the key phrase in the movie from beginning to end.

That I find really amusing. 

pearlie

The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear?



Psalm 27:1-14 (ESV)
The LORD is my light and my salvation; 
whom shall I fear? 
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; 
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, 
my adversaries and foes, 
it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, 
my heart shall not fear; 
though war arise against me, 
yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after: 
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, 
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; 
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; 
he will lift me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, 
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; 
be gracious to me and answer me! 
You have said, "Seek my face." 
My heart says to you, 
"Your face, LORD, do I seek."
Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger, 
O you who have been my help. 
Cast me not off; 
forsake me not, O God of my salvation! 
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, 
but the LORD will take me in. 

Teach me your way, O LORD, 
and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. 
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; 
for false witnesses have risen against me, 
and they breathe out violence. 
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! 

Wait for the LORD; 
be strong, and let your heart take courage; 
wait for the LORD!

pearlie

Attaining Life Fulfilment



I've accepted that we've all got crap to deal with and problems that we're fighting not to be defined by. At the end of the day, we all want the same stuff: fulfillment, love, support, comfort, and a hot-air balloon with laser guns attached to it. The most important thing is that we appreciate the crazy ride we're on. 
~ Zach Anner

It's easy to look at the things of this world to solve our challenges and obstacles in life, but when we submit our lives to Christ, His grace, mercy, peace and love will bring true fulfillment to our lives. 
~ Bethany Hamilton

If you so choose, even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities. If you so choose, you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance. 
~ Ralph Marston

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
~ Philippians 1:21 (ESV)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
~ Matthew 6:33-34 (ESV)

pearlie

Food and thoughts: crowd out, don’t cut out



I found out about the diet advise of “crowd out, don’t cut out,” where it will not work to cut out food that taste good but may not be good for you. So instead of cutting it off completely, crowd it out with good food, and you can still savor some of the tasty stuff in small quantities. 

I realize I have been doing that. For one, I drink a lot of water and I feel quite full as a result. And recently, to stop me from opening up tins of CNY goodies at work, I would pop a Fisherman’s Friend lozenge and that worked fabulously in helping me stay away from cookies and snacks. 

But I’m also crowding out this other one thing. There are some thoughts and worries that I cannot cut out. But it does not help to think or worry about it either. 

So I’m practicing crowding out by replacing my thoughts with better things. I did not crowd it out with serious stuff today but with something simple and easy enough to fill my mind for the time being. 

It worked perfectly.

Philippians 4:6-9 (MSG)
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

pearlie

I’m finally back to reading C.S. Lewis

In my attempt to get back into a more extensive reading regime, I found myself to be gravitating towards C.S. Lewis’s books and books about him. 

C.S Lewis still remains after all this time my most favourite author and I happen to remember this saying that I found most apt in describing him. 

I usually forget what I read, and so it’s interesting I actually remember it but I am even more amazed that I actually remember which book it’s found in. 

It’s in Lewis’s God in the Dock where Walter Hooper said this in his preface - C.S. Lewis is one writer of this century of whom the Greek epigram about Plato seems eminently exact: “In whatever direction we go, we meet him on the way back.”

And if you have read C.S. Lewis, you will totally agree with Hooper. 

The book which I have just finished reading explores Lewis’s thoughts in modern and post-modern thinking. 


Lewis Agonistes: How C.S. Lewis can Train Us to Wrestle with the Modern and Post-Modern World
by Louis Markos

I must say that books by C.S. Lewis and books about C.S. Lewis are tough reads, including this one but I found it is one of the best and most interesting book I have read in awhile. 

The topics that Markos brought up to be argued alongside with Lewis include:
- The War of Reason and Intuition
- Wrestling with Science
- Wrestling with the New Age
- Wrestling with Evil and Suffering
- Wrestling with the Arts
- Wrestling with Heaven and Hell

The chapters on science and on evil and suffering are good but not new to me. 

The chapter on new age was interesting. Markos says, “The pendulum has indeed swung far in the direction of science, empiricism, and objectivity, and it was only a matter of time before this relentless swing towards secularizarion set off a counter-swing back toward the sacred...This reaction has surfaced in various different forms, but it has come (since the 1980s) to be referred to under a single all-inclusive heading: the New Age...the reaction was to be expected, the unchecked, headlong progress of Enlightenment thought could not help but breed its own antithesis.”

The author’s opinion for us Christians is “if we are to accept the New Age not as an all-out threat to the church but as an opportunity to reach a multitude of souls hungry for spiritual truth, then we must learn to identify, understand and sympathize with the desires and yearnings that drive these passionate neopagans.”

And I really like the chapter on Wrestling with the Arts where the author focused on language, poetry, metaphors and parallelisms. The post-modernists have reduced language from being inherently meaningful—that behind the words used was something real, words like love and justice and beauty meant something—to something that is arbitrary in that words are subjective in meaning. They have “killed the ‘illusion’ that words can point back to an absolute, eternal meaning.”

But language is centered on meaning and truth, and the “language of Scripture and of poetry at its most sublime is not singular or linear but polysemous (Greek for ‘many signs’)...[it’s] the slippery nature of poetry and of those images, metaphors, and symbols on which all of the arts finally rest is what enables it to hold in tension a supernatural meaning that could not be expressed in a closed, mathematical system...the Lord’s Supper is the most perfect of symbols, the great reservoir of polysemous meaning. The communion wine remains wine, and yet it is also simultaneously the blood of Christ...language is more meaningful precisely because it is slippery.”

The author then spent considerable time referring to the fiction that Lewis wrote based on mythologies, sagas, legends and medieval romances. 

With that, I promise myself that I must fully read the Chronicles of Narnia. I have read it but not completely. 

The Magician’s Nephew is now my next read. I just bought the Kindle version of The Chronicles of Narnia Complete 7-Book Collection and I am looking forward to digging in. 

pearlie

I’m loving it—my Kindle Paperwhite

I started to pick up read again extensively back in 2011 when I found that I could buy e-books from Kobo.com. 

And since then I have always wanted an e-ink reader. I tried to get a Kobo one but they will not deliver to Malaysia. 

It was only in 2016 that Amazon began to sell e-books to Malaysia. But till today, they still do not deliver their Kindle e-readers here. 

And so when I was in the US last month, I went to Target on the very day I arrived and bought the Kindle Paperwhite. 



But I did feel the pinch. It cost me more than RM500 but now after a month of using it, I have no regrets. 

It’s because I am reading again. 

2016 wasn’t a good year in reading for me. I only managed to read 20 books. I got caught up with too much television. 

So I’m happy. It’s only February and I’ve just finished my fifth book today. 



I am not very ambitious but I hope to read at least 25 books this year. 

pearlie

EdX’s Introduction to Big Data by Microsoft



After hearing so much about big data this and big data that, I thought it is high time for me to dig a bit deeper into what it is all about and that’s when I found edX’s Introduction to Big Data

I started on it couple of weeks ago and it’s only at the final week 4 that it goes into what big data is. 

The first three weeks is spent on the fundamental concepts of data i.e. data formats, encoding, storing, types of databases, database warehouse, data stores. 

And with that, Big Data is after all just a form of data, just that there is a lot of it, it would come in many different formats and varieties, and it may come in a high velocity—the threes Vs: volume, variety and velocity of data. 

It’s just a taste of what big data is and it doesn’t get too technical though there are sections which I chose to just scan through, but it does give me a very good introduction as to what it is all about.  

At least now I have a fair bit of understanding when people talk about big data. 

pearlie

What’s your favourite word today?



I keep this daily diary app Askt that asks me the same question for each of the year. It’s interesting I’m still at it after 4 years and it’s interesting to see how my answers have evolved, and even more interesting how my answers can be exactly the same year on year. 

The question today is an interesting one: what’s your favourite word right now?

The first word that came my mind was “think”. 

I shared it with a couple of my friends and their responses were interesting too.

One ask why am I so into thinking? Looks like this may not be the first time I talked to him about my propensity to think all the time. But it’s something I can’t stop doing. I probably think too much for my own good to begin with.

The other friend commented that it’s a very interesting word in that it’s both cold and rational, and warm and emotional. Now isn’t that an interesting observation. I never thought of it that way before. I know it can be either intellectual, I am thinking about something or emotional, I am thinking about you. But I never thought about it being warm and cold. 

Yes, I am thinking I have very interesting thinking friends too. 

So, what’s your favourite word for today?

pearlie

What does it mean by being members of a church?

Our sermon in church today was based on 1 Tim 5:1-3 and Titus 2:1-8. And I find the words in Titus very good and instructive. 

Titus 2:1-8 (ESV)
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.



I feel that being in a faith community gives us the privilege of being in a larger family in Christ and it’s something so good that we shouldn’t take it for granted, which we sometimes unconsciously do. 

Like what Titus 2:1-8 say, we should be building relationships in the churches we worship in together. 

But building relationships and building trust with each other takes time. And we don’t spend that much time in church. 

So I find that we do need to make an effort to get know each other, to talk to one another and to love them. 

It wasn’t brought up in the sermon but it does bring me to something I have not thought about in a long time: church membership.  

I have not put much thought into committing to being members of a church ever since we sort of got burnt in one. 

We are not negative about it. We just don’t think about it. And with that I realise we are not fully committed either. 

As such, I am now beginning to put some thought into why I am not thinking or considering being a member of the church we are currently attending. 

We have “visited” a church before this for more than 4 years. We left and now we have been in this current one for one and a half. 

We love the people and the place...so maybe it’s time we commit again. 

pearlie

I have lazed it away...again

CNY


I find that I have this bad habit of extreme lazying, what my husband and I call it vegetating, at home during a long holiday.

As much as I tell myself I deserve a break after a full week of work, it’s hard to justify it when I ended up doing absolutely nothing in a longer break of more than the regular 2-day weekend. 

In this modern times, many do try to glorify laziness but however you put it, it’s not a good thing. 

Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction. 
~ Anne Frank

All of the biggest technological inventions created by man - the airplane, the automobile, the computer - says little about his intelligence, but speaks volumes about his laziness. 
~ Mark Kennedy

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
~ Luke 16:10 (ESV)

A sluggard's appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
~ Proverbs 13:4 (NIV)

Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.
~ Proverbs 20:4 (NIV)

The above two verses from Proverbs do speak to me particularly because I always feel that I have wasted my time away when it should have been put to better use—at least in reading or attending the online lectures I have already signed up to begin with.

But why is it I only realise it after and not before?

pearlie

A yummy and homely CNY eve

CNY
We haven’t had a family reunion in my parents’ home in a long time, we usually eat out. 

But we had it at home this year, which was wonderful, except that I wished my son was here too. 

I was at the Ayer Panas Morning Market getting a roast duck from my colleague whose family has been selling it for years. 

Here is Jason busy serving his customers, and yup, that’s my roast duck there. 



It was quite crowded. 



The granny on the right was quite cute. When I arrived, Jason saw me and said hi. With so many people, I instinctively told him to take his time. But the granny indignantly said to me, in perfect English no less, “don’t ask him to take his time! I’ve been waiting here for too long already!” LOL Good thing she was good natured about it, and we chatted for a bit. 



My other colleague Teresa then came as well to get her share of roast ducks. 



Then it was time for our reunion dinner at home, with yü sang, pun choi, roast duck, vegetables and fruits. Simple but yummy and filling. 



Happy and blessed Chinese New Year all!

pearlie

A Thousand Words #220



Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone. 
~ Paul Tillich

Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self. 
~ May Sarton

Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in. 
~ C. S. Lewis

pearlie

A losing battle to good food

CNY


I have so much snacks in the office and at home that I am definitely going to gain weight this Chinese New Year. 

I gained 2 kilos during CNY last year and I want to try very hard not to this year. 

But I think it’s going to be a losing battle. You just gotta given in to good food once a year. 

pearlie
Photo: breadetbutter.wordpress.com

Be brave enough to live life creatively



Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort. 
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others. 
~ Ayn Rand

Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been. 
~ Alan Alda

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things. 
~ Steve Jobs

pearlie

Read a book in a day!

My friend Ee-Tan posted two books in Facebook and one of them caught my eye. 

I have read a couple of books on defectors from North Korea but this is one I have not read even though I do have a copy of it. 


The Girl with Seven Names, Escape from North Korea
by Lee Hyeon Seo

I decided to start reading it and it is quite well written and easy to read, so much so I finished it in a day. 

I have read books in a day before, but not many and I’m quite happy to have done one this round. Though in my travel back from the US, I did finish one book in one day but that was quite an elongated day having traveled across the international time zone. So it won’t count. 

The book is quite engaging and you will feel like you’ve been alongside her in her journey across the different nations to finally reach South Korea. 

It would not be fair to compare between defectors, because their lives and experiences are different but I must say the other book I read, A Thousand Miles to Freedom by Kim Eun Sun, though not as well written, was more harrowing than Lee’s. 

And from our perspective, we would think that it would be an excellent idea for more North Koreans to defect to the South but after reading these books, I found that it may not be the case. 

Life for them in the South is usually hard and lonely, and it is very difficult for them to settle or to make a good living. Life for South Koreans themselves is tough and competitive, what more for the defectors who usually have no degrees, no family support or a good background to speak of. 

As oppressive and harsh life in the North was, many would wish they had never left. 

pearlie

Rosak already lah...

I was watching a Korean drama when I saw this:



It is obviously a product placement but for any Malaysians who see this would chuckle and probably shake their heads. 

One must really be multi-lingual when it comes to branding. 

Really...they must. 

Note to non-Malaysians: meaning of the word rosak (Malay to English.)
1. Rosak - damaged, ruined, broken (of things); disrepair, bruise, frazzle, destroyed 
2. Merosak - deprave, deflower, corrode, botch, blight 
3. Merosakkan - destroy, desolate, deleterious, deface, damage 
Source: Kamus Online

pearlie

Every minute of reunion is worth keeping

CNY
With my son now so far away in the US, I really felt it when I watched this short film. 

It is based on a true story, filmed using an iPhone X, and considering it’s filmed using a phone, it’s very well done. 

It’s about how a mother only had 3 minutes to see her son, and with the silly but endearing things that a mom would do. 

It’s short but be prepared with a good supply of tissues. 

Three Minutes - a Short Film by Peter Chan, Apple


And I really love the saying at the end of the film—every minute of reunion is worth keeping. 

It makes me miss my late grandmother so much. 

The Chinese New Year is coming. Get reunited with your loved ones, parents, brothers, sisters, family, friends. 

Tell them how much you love them. Hug them. Tell them how much you appreciate them. 

Every moment counts. 

pearlie

Time to get back to my language learning?

I have been so busy getting my son ready for college and with the travelling and all, I have put my language learning on hold...for a bit too long though. 

My record has always been quite good until now. This is my flashcard review graph for the whole year and I have been progressing very well, until the past few weeks...



...where I have not reviewed my cards for more than 20 days resulting in a huge gap in my monthly review count. And I have never missed it for more than one day before. 


And as I have said many times, language learning is one of the most difficult things that I have done. And I have been asking myself if I should give it up. 

It’s so hard. 

I am still not speaking anything but English, Malay and Cantonese. 

A big part of me refuse to give up and so I’m back to reviewing my flashcards.

It is hard. I have forgotten so many of the Chinese words I have learnt. And now I have to slowly pick them up again. 

And with the harbinger of new technology that may very soon result in wearable language translators, we may not even need to learn a new language but I still find being able to speak a different language a really cool thing to do. 

But it just take so much effort. Is it worth it?

pearlie

Way too much sleep



talked about my jet lag when I returned from the US last month. 

I gave it about 8 days but I was already feeling okay on the 6th day after I returned. 

However, there is one difference though. I find that I get sleepy very early ever since I am back, and that it quite unusual. 

I used to sleep at about 12am and I did that for several nights alternately but I was exhausted at 8pm last night and slept till 7 this morning. 

And that’s 11 hours of sleep. It’s way too much sleep. 

It’s now 9pm and I’m again exhausted and with a headache too. 

I wonder if I’m still under jet lag, albeit slightly. 

pearlie

Oh so painful


I opened up my bank app this afternoon to transfer some money to my mom but saw that my credit card statement is already out, complete with what I have spent last month when I accompanied my son to the US. 

I took a look. 

It’s painful. 

pearlie

Wonderful Things of the World #7: Loong Yuk Gon



Here is my 7th entry of what I think is one of the wonderful things of the world but I don’t know why so far they are all in the food category. 

Books are wonderful too but I would blog them as book reviews. 

Anyway, the Chinese New Year is fast approaching and it is only during the CNY that I allow myself to eat Loong Yuk Gon. 

Its name in Cantonese obviously belies itself. Loong (dragon) Yuk (meat) Gon (dried/jerky) is of course no dragon meat. It’s pork and there is the chicken version too. Not too sure about beef though. 

Which is your favourite?

We just bought some from Bee Cheng Hiang today, but my hubby likes those from Oloiya and my mom’s favourite is from Hock Seng Guan. 

The reason why I’m limiting myself to have this only during the CNY is that even though it’s yummy, it’s not healthy. 

But when are tasty stuff ever healthy?!

pearlie

Why do we lou sang when it’s not even the Chinese New Year yet?



I remember we used to only lou sang during the Chinese New Year proper, which is only right because we lou sang to the New Year and not the old. 

So why do we do it now before the New Year?

What I can deduce is that the restaurants want to make more bucks with it since there is a high demand and I believe their profit margin is very lucrative. And for us consumers, we have more opportunities to eat it. 

We just had it for dinner today and it was really good. 

pearlie

I just found out there is this thing called the Little Black Dress

...and I have at least 10 of them. 

What is it with women and little black dresses? 

I didn’t even know they are called Little Black Dresses or LBD until I googled it. It was apparently Coco Chanel who created the icon. 

Read about here in Smithsonian.com and this Wiki article. 

It is indeed women’s wardrobe staple and with my collection which I’ve purchased over the years, I can still wear them because they never get dated. 

How many Little Black Dresses do you have?

pearlie