Blogging IS the assignment!

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I sometimes still pinch myself just to make sure that I’m not dreaming. I’m not! I am a wildcat. It’s amazing when things you dream, hope and pine for come true.

First quarter of dreaded winter term has begun. Dreaded because I am seriously a tropics gal, all this cold, ice, snowy isn’t really my thing. I love lying in the sun, toasty warm. So I was worried about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Worried that i’d wake up everyday weepy, unable to get my mind focused on anything, learn nothing from my courses and fail my classes. And you know what? Somehow winter has been mild this year. Thank you El Nino… =) Thank you for helping me ease into this cold…

Anyhow, i’m really excited about this new quarter. And can you believe, one of our assignments this entire term is to BLOG! To find our voice and experiment on digital presence.

I am so excited!

Of course, I’m suppose to blog on more serious stuff related to some of the theories and concepts we are learning about, but i really want to have fun with this. And I really want to VLOG! I’ve never done it before, except for a recent game that we had developed at work, when I made some videos as a makcik with a youtube channel. And it was such such fun! So i’m hoping I get to push myself a little more and get out of my comfort zone… which is obviously this random rubbish i spew on this blog…that some of you are so kind to read. *muacks*

So stay tuned yar….

Oh by the way, I also moved my blog onto a Northwestern Uni wordpress related site. Think it was time to say bye-bye to blogger… AND it’s one of those things i do that’s akin to pinching myself. It makes this experience more real to me….I’m trying to savour ever precious moment.

Till later folks…and oh yar, to my #msloc430 classmates who are reading my blog for the first time….WELCOME TO THE PAR-TAAAYYYY!!!!

Prototyping, Feedback and Ferguson

Since, we learnt about rapid prototyping and learning faster by failing early at work, we’ve embraced this concept with a vengeance.

I’m always always at some stage of prototyping at work.

I LOVE but also HATE prototyping. (Why is everything love-hate for me?)

I love how much we learn through the process of prototyping. I love how the process of prototyping draws from the wisdom and experience of the people who try our prototypes out. In a recent game we had developed, the prototyping experience provided so many ideas and solutions that really contributed to the growth and complexity of our final product.

But I also hate it.

I find receiving feedback so difficult. Even when the idea is still at its nascent stage. Even when I haven’t spent that much time developing the idea.

I once shared, in an auditorium filled with people, that one of the things we’ve learnt in our team was not to hold on too dearly to our ideas. With rapid prototyping, your ideas can be thrown out in a jiffy. Cardboard prototypes you put together, can get thrown into the recycling bin even before the fine paperknife-cuts on your fingers begin to heal.

I understand all this cognitively. I just haven’t been able to grasp it emotionally.

Every negative feedback that is given, is like a knife that stabs me through the heart! Even if I spent only the last 10 minutes putting the prototype together. Even if I know that I haven’t thought about it enough. It still feels like Jack the Ripper is shredding through my torso.

It is painful.

It takes all the focus and determination in me, not to react to the initial sting of the negative feedback and go on the defensive.

Sometimes I wished I were more like David Beckham. Apparently, according to Alex’s Ferguson latest biography, David was the only player he had every coached who was totally unaffected by his mistakes.

“He could have the worst game possible and still not believe that he had under-performed in any way. He would dismiss you, tell you you were wrong. He was incredibly protective of himself…….You had to admire that. In a way it was a great quality. No matter how many mistakes he would make (in my eyes, not his), he would always want the ball. His confidence never suffered.”

Well, ok not exactly like Beckham, but a stronger shield to protect myself would be useful. Instead, I usually feel bruised and upset. And it takes a lot of focus to open myself to the feedback, the ideas behind the “This was so not fun” or “This was too difficult” or “It’s crazy that you think this is possible”. But not too open, that it leads me to believe that everything is negative and everything is beyond redemption.

Before you get the wrong impression, let me clarify, as I had to the Abang-cashier at Times when I picked up Ferguson’s autobiography- I am NOT a fan. I was just curious.

He looked at me, grimaced and under his breath muttered ,”Liverpool”. With MUCH DISDAIN!

Ipin in Man U kit and Ihsan in Liverpool kit. My dad actually said to Irfan ,” Why are you wearing Man U? Wait, Atok throw you into the dustbin”.
Yes, the family is that serious in its allegiance to Liverpool!

Look, the truth is, I am NO football fan. I have some allegiance to Liverpool, but its largely because my dad and brother are fans. Ok, so maybe I am a sort-of fan. I did buy Liverpool kits for my boys when I was in London last year and flatly refused to buy Man United kits that hubby had requested. And yes, i do celebrate, quietly, a little bit, when Man U doesn’t do so well in a match. (Please don’t hate me Red Devil friends). But really, I’m not a fan.

I picked up the book and paid $39 bucks for it because I was curious. I really was. I do think that Ferguson was a successful football manager and I wanted to hear what he had to say.

To  be honest, I didn’t appreciate all of it mostly because he talked a lot about matches that Man United played (I hardly watched any), and players he had recruited, sold, etc. I only know players who are good-looking or if they are Spanish. E.g. Iniesta is not good looking but Spanish, so i know him. Actually, that’s not true. I know Rooney, and he’s neither good-looking nor Spanish. (Who cares if you’re not good looking if you’re a multi-million dollar footballer with a solution to your receding hairline?)

But I did enjoy the book in general. It game me a sense of the man. How important football was to him. How important the club was to him. What the club meant. What it stood for.

It was also interesting to read his thoughts about some of his players. How he selected them. What he looked for. Players that weren’t only talented, but fit into the tradition of the club. That had the character to stand tall in the eyes of the club. That could handle the pressure that came with being a Man United player.

I know it wasn’t meant to be a management guidebook, but there were some gems hidden between the pages of the book. A lot of it, for me was about character- knowing and protecting the character of the club (or organisation), knowing how to bring the best out of your team (when to call it quits with a player) and knowing your own character as a leader, what you stand for, what you are willing to sacrifice and what you are never going to tolerate.

While, I was blowing on the mental wounds, post-prototype today, I thought about Ferguson.  

Football managers are always trying out new configurations. In an intense league like the EPL, you have players that get injured or need to be rested, and you just have to try new stuff out. They study the game, they strategise and then hope for the best.

And if doesn’t turn out great, the media and fans, they slaughter you.

“I couldn’t allow the press conference to become a torture chamber. It was my duty to protect the dignity of the club and all that we were doing. it was important to be on the front foot and control the conversation as much as possible.

Before I went through that door to face the world, I trained myself, prepared myself mentally. Experience helped.”

Obviously right now, the feedback during prototypes is about the work, the ideas. Not about me. It’s never been personal. Not yet.

But at some point, in my future, I could be receiving feedback that is personal that may suggest, I’m not good enough. I’m not doing my job well. That I’m the problem.

Obviously, today- I’m not ready for that sort of feedback. In fact, some of my colleagues witnessed me disintegrating into shambles, in an episode earlier this year, which involved feedback that I took very personally.

I’ll obviously never be a Beckham (Although, he could just be masking his vulnerabilities. Ferguson doesn’t think so though. Ok anyone that looks THAT scrumptious in nothing but Armani briefs, can’t have any insecurities right? Ok i believe Ferguson). But i could learn to protect myself a little more.

And maybe, hey people! It may be useful to remind ourselves when giving feedback even when it’s for an idea that is still in its nascent stages, that someone gave birth to the idea, no matter how silly and it takes some courage to ask for feedback. So be gentle. We shouldn’t sugar-coat everything so that the feedback disappears in all the sweetness, but we don’t have to be so direct, that it cuts either.

Capture the little fleeting moments

I think it’s time for me to start filling the pages of my blog again.

My last post was in January 2013.

It feels like that was years ago. So much has happened since then.

So much, I have failed to chronicle.

Today, I’m feeling nostalgic. My dreams led me to memories I had come to terms with and have come to cherish, but yet I find myself, today, just today, dwelling on the past.

And what i need more than anything today, is to revisit my thoughts, the feelings I encountered, then. But all those words I had penned had gotten lost. In email accounts that have been de-registered, in floppy disks that i have misplaced. I am sorely missing those thoughts, those words that would let me immerse myself in my past.

So, a return to this is a must. Because it serves my purpose, my need to remember, to capture the little fleeting moments that are precious to me, and that I want to preserve for my future enjoyment.

Day 1 without the Live-in Helper: Wish me Luck Okay?

This is a second draft of my post.

The first ended up being one long rant about all the reasons why I am glad our live-in helper has returned to Indonesia for good. I deleted it when i realised it doesn’t matter anymore. It was the past.

All that matters was that she was honest. I could trust her to take care of my boys. She was really very good at laundry and a part of me was really sad, maybe still sad, that she has left us.

But it is a step in the right direction. We will be going on without a live-in helper. My mom was a successful career woman and mother with no live in helper, and I shall be too!

So day 1.

Hubby and I woke up 1/2 hour earlier today. The boys were still asleep. Phew! I made their morning milk bottles while hubby showered. Their school bags were all packed and ready to go.

7am: We woke them up, got them into their party clothes- they’re celebrating Christmas today in school, got them to brush their teeth.

7.10am: I washed my face, brushed my teeth, pulled on some decent clothes and a tudung. Hubby rinsed the bottles and left them in the sink for me to finish up.

7.15am: Lined them up to wear their shoes. Ihsan ran back inside and refused to come out because he wanted to bring a picture of Bob the Builder with him. We told him he’d get to eat a christmas log cake if he went to school. He quickly ran out of the house.

7.20am: Finally out of the house and off to school.

7.23am: Boys arrive at school for temperature and HFMD checks (their school is at our void-deck, so it’s quite a speedy journey).

7.30am: Successfully done temperature checks, mouth, hand and feet checks. Hubby heads off to work.
I head back upstairs.

Ordinarily, I’d come up get ready for work and be out of the house by 8.15am. But today, I’m on leave. So i spent the morning clearing out her room and turn it back into a study cum laundry room. I also changed my sheets and arranged for some laundry ppl to pick them up to be cleaned (it’s Dec and there’s no sun, I’d rather save myself the trouble).

The new study cum laundry room…Work in progress…

Hubby confided to me that he was pretty scared about how we’d be able to cope without a live-in helper.

I replied, ” Yar! You better put in your fair-share of work to keep this household together.

But the truth is….I am afraid too! But I think we can do it. It’s going to take some hard work and discipline to manage this household, my challenging work and the rambunctious twins, but I think it’ll be okay.

Wish me luck okay?

Facing my fears, wearing the Hijab.

I started wearing the hijab on 01 Ramadhan this year.

I haven’t spoken much about this beyond a recent post that pretty much warned people not to ask me about it if I ever did decide to wear the Hijab. That defensiveness had a lot to do with my own personal fears and worries about whether I was brave enough to wear the hijab. I did write about my personal experience of boys cursing a burqa wearing lady in SFO in this facebook post (or appended below). I feared the Hate I felt that day.

Since I started wearing the hijab, people have asked me about my decision and I was surprised that I found myself quite happy to talk about my journey.

I don’t think my story is unique. But it is my story.

I have always known that I would wear the Hijab. It was only a matter of- when? I’ve been raised to believe that young girls must dress modestly and don the hijab as soon as they hit puberty. But I was also raised to believe that there is no point in wearing the hijab if the way I lived my life was in conflict with the teachings of Islam, i.e. no point trying to look like a virtuous Muslim girl by wearing the hijab, if I don’t pray 5 times a day, if I don’t feel a connection to our faith and god, cheat or lie.

And for many years, that connection wasn’t very strong. I’ll be honest. I would only turn to God when I felt I needed divine intervention. Sometime I felt I needed divine intervention for what, on hindsight, does seem quite trivial, like exams or heartbreak. Other times for more serious things, such as praying for a loved one to recover from a serious illness.

While the connection wasn’t very strong, that connection…was, nonetheless, still there. Never in my mind did I ever doubt the existence of God, or my belief in Islam.

One of those times I felt I needed to turn to God was after the miscarriage I experienced 3 or so years ago. I turned to God in my moment of darkness. Praying that he would lift my spirits, heal me physically and emotionally, and not to take away, forever, the hopes of a child in our lives.

When we learnt that we were pregnant with twins, I was over the moon. But I was also riddled with deep dark fears that I would lose the pregnancy. Some of it was fear that God would punish me for all the naughty things that I had done, and believe you me- I’ve been naughty!

During this time, I received a lot of emotional support from many beloved friends. Many of whom are of the Christian faith. Whether they said it explicitly or not, I knew that I was always in their hearts and sometimes in their prayers. I begun to admire their initimate connection and genuine love for their creater, and felt envious of how their faith was such an enriching source of light and happiness for them.

As far as I can remember, I was taught to fear my creator and the fires of hell, more than to love and admire the Almighty’s greatness, compassion and love. I don’t remember people telling me I should wear the hijab or pray to demonstrate my love and commitment to the Almighty. However, I do remember elders asking me why I was not more afraid of the hellfire?

Anyways, the friends, the friend, they inspired me to revisit my connection with my faith and my own beliefs. Their faith helped me find my own.

My connection is no longer rooted in the fear of punishment, but more in appreciation for the gifts that I have been bestowed- my sons, my loving husband, my caring  family and friends who have been a source of strength.                                                                    

It is also rooted in a trust that whatever obstacles that is laid before me, was laid purposefully to help me learn and to strengthen me through hardship. They were and are not meant to break me. The pain of my first pregnancy only proved to my husband and I, that we wanted, more than anything else, to start a family. It also brought us and our families closer together in support of each other.

Did I feel like I needed to wear the hijab to represent this change? I don’t think so. It wasn’t about making a public statement of my commitment and faith. The truth is, I just woke up one day and felt that it was something i wanted to do.

I knew I was far from perfect. Have I missed a prayer since? Sure. Everyone knows how bitchy I am and how I LOVE to gossip. And I don’t even notice anymore when I flirt with men! Whether I like it or not, I am never going to be the perfect Muslim. After all, no one is perfect. It is more important that I don’t stop striving to be better. I believe God accepts me despite my imperfections and will love me for the sincerity of my intentions.

But I didn’t start wearing the hijab the day I woke up and felt like it was the right thing to do. It took me a whole year to finally muster up enough courage to wear the hijab. Much of it had to do with that story of hate I experienced. And some of it was a discomfort of losing the anonymity of identity I once possessed.

“It’s just that i like my anonymity- that i look a little chinese, filipino, thai, malay,cambodian and nepali. i don’t like that people know what race or religion i am, just from looking at me. it’s also why i’m reluctant to put on the headscarf, if i do- i’d be pigeon holed as a muslim girl. i just like my anonymity too much at this point of time to give it up.”

eveeleva, 2009

While I’ve come to terms with giving up my anonymity in Singapore by wearing my faith on my head, as it were. I’m not sure whether I will feel the same way if I’m traveling or living in the US or Europe. I can’t be certain that the fears I felt that warm summer day in SFO, won’t flood back and that I’d be tempted to yank the hijab off my head, stuff it in a bag, so that no kid would shout to a bus-driver asking that I be run down.

When that day in the future comes, will I have the courage to face my fears? Will I keep the hijab on despite my fears and insecurities, in the face of possible hatred and discrimination? I’m not sure.

But I have the courage today to say, whatever happens in the future is beyond my control. I do, however, have control of what I do today. And today, I choose to wear the hijab. I choose to be proud of my faith. And I choose to try and be a better Muslim today than I was yesterday.

I choose to take it one day at a time.

_____

remember like it happened yesterday the chills that ran down my back when 2 boys in a bus in San Francisco yelled to the bus driver, “run her down!” They were referring to a lady crossing the street. She was dressed in an all black burqa. You could only see her eyes. I sat silently. Relieved that they couldn’t identify me, the girl sitting a row before them, as a muslim. 

One of the reasons I h

aven’t worn the hijab earlier, is the fear of the hate I would encounter if I did wear it. I also felt shame for feeling that way. Perhaps that was why I hardly share this encounter since it happened the summer of 2005.

9/11 changed the world. And it did so startlingly for the millions of Muslims who do not condone the act but are suddenly vilified because of our identity as Muslims.

My fear hasn’t altogether dissipated despite the fact that I’ve decided to adorn the hijab.

But I’m comforted everyday by the non Muslim friends and colleague who accept me despite this change. I feel no different today wearing my faith on my head, as it were, then before. And I walk down the street everyday knowing, w absolute certainty, that noone on a bus is hoping I get lynched.For that and much more I am thankful for being a Muslim in Singapore.

Today I want to honor the memory of the lives lost on 9/11 and the families, frens and loved ones who must still be grieving their loss. I too wish that 9/11 had never happened and that we were restored the lives, happiness and peace we once enjoyed.


Eveeleva, 9/11/2012

I need SIMPLE.

We discovered a really nice old chinese bakery near our place It makes really nice, fluffy french loaves.
 And it’s regular loaf is really quite a treat.
Especially with some butter and kaya.
SIMPLE. 
Uncomplicated.
Easy.
Yet, Satisfying.
Perhaps its time for me to focus on the simple things.
What really matters!
Maybe complexity is just not me
Someone else can try and figure out how to whip up eggs benedict, with hollandaise sauce, smoked salmon and asparagus with truffle sauce, from scratch.
I’l just butter me up some plain white toast and slather me on some pre-made kaya.

Much ado about a tudung!

I attended a cousin’s wedding on Sunday. As it was being held at the mosque, I thought I should just wear the tudung (headscarf). Not only would it be respectful, it would be most convenient to have the tudung on instead of just having a scarf to cover my hair when necessary. With the boys and the stuff I have to lug around these days, it was just better to have the think pinned to my head.

Me in a tudung wearing my kitty cat baju kurung and carrying my Ipin

What i didn’t expect was the response! As there WERE gals who didn’t wear the tudung, some family members and friends were taken, somewhat, by surprise. And some even asked me whether I was wearing the tudung for good, not just for the event!

I don’t mind, if you are a close family member or friend to ask me. But there were those who barely know me, and even they had the cheek to ask me!

If I want to wear the tudung, it is my decision and mine alone. It is of no consequence to you! And so what? Do you behave any differently to me, now that I do or do not wear the tudung ‘fulltime’?

I didn’t regret my decision that day. I felt comfortable that I was appropriately dressed for the venue. I didn’t feel awkward when I had to go look for a place to change my son and sit at a prayer hall to put Upin to sleep. It was the right thing to do for ME!

And just for the record. NO. I have not put on the tudung ‘fulltime’. It is still something I am thinking about and when I do decide to do it, it’s not going to make any difference to you anyway!

My relationship with God

I’m having a challenging time at work this week. I’ve had to channel all my positive energy into convincing myself that I am capable of helping the team through this big piece of work and achieving what we set out to do.

I’ve never been a very very religious person. I believe in God yes, I profess myself Muslim yes, but do I pray 5 times a day every day? I’d like to say I did, but I’d be lying. I’m not a perfect Muslim, then again who is?

On the advise of, well advise wouldn’t be the right word, cos my friends have never outrightly advised me. But did, by sharing with me how they would rely on their faith in God to get them through challenging times, that I’ve been inspired to seek more solace in my faith. Much more than I have for a long time now.

It doesn’t surprise me that those who have inspired this are friends of the Christian faith, rather than my Muslim friends. Maybe because I’ve grown up in a mission school all my life, I’m more comfortable talking about my own religion and faith with non-Muslims rather than Muslims.

Anyway, tonight while I was doing my post-prayer reflection it dawned on me that the relationship that I’ve always had with God has always been one based on fear. Not on love.

I’m thinking that I don’t want that for my children. They should learn to love our God, not fear him.

Twin Mommy Meltdown

I have a ton of post ideas…akin to an editorial plan…but the ‘plan’ will have to wait. This post is about the now.
I had a mommy meltdown. I’ll admit it. It’s not easy to do so- admit it that is. But I will. Cos I’ll be stupid and selfish to pretend that everything is ok.
I’ve been sleep-deprived since our trip to Krabi (sigh, many posts on that trip still to come..when i finally find the time). The boys had fallen ill and also started teething again, and their sleep schedule had become all messed up. They’ve also learnt how to scream. Like really scream! Like Jennifer Love Hewitt in the movie Scream, screamed. Err…no…that was the other chick…she (Jennifer) screamed in ‘I knew what you did last summer’. Well you get the point!
And a lot of this screaming happens in the middle of the night. And i’m new to this HDB etiquette thing. Am i allowed to let my child scream all night long, even if it wakes up the upstairs, downstairs and next door neighbours? Soundproofing in new HDB flats are almost non-existent and its got me all wound up like a big fat furball…. erk….
Anyhow, after many many night of multiple crying episodes which, frankly, my husband was handling, cos I had lost it…gone off the rail… I mean I’d just sit and stare at either twin who was screaming at the time, using all my energy not to do something I’d really regret, and then feeling guilty that I had such terrible thoughts running through my mind…I was feeling totally useless AND exhausted.
The cumulative lack of sleep resulted in a terrible migraine on Monday morning. Not quite able to face the world, or myself for that matter, I called in sick. Phone in hand, I just couldn’t help but check facebook (I am sooo addicted) and then stupidly clicked on the video which some friend shared below.
Guess what happened? I started bawling my head off…and didn’t stop crying for most of the day. Mixture of guilt about not being able to cope, feeling relieved that I wasn’t the only one who thought this was the hardest job in the world and fear that my child won’t be successful and in the olympics like these moms…but instead in therapy blaming their life problems on their mum …ME! (yar, i know that it’s so ‘divine secrets of the ya ya sisterhood)

Major mommy meltdown moment!!

Thank god for Son who spent an hour on the phone, all the way from Sydney, telling me that all was going to be ok.

And thank heavens for the girlfriend who happily met me for coffee, at Food for Thought at Singapore Botanic Garden, later that afternoon. The chat helped me feel more centred and more confident that I wasn’t going to necessarily ruin my children’s lives.

Of course the slice of red-velvet cake didn’t hurt either. The sugar rush, was perhaps, the very thing I needed.

Mr Eveel was also so supportive, let me head out to spend the evening at a colleagues farewell, assuring me he’d have everything under control, and that I should just hang loose for the evening. And i sure did.

I’m feeling better. Still tired, not quite wonderful and perfect yet, but better….

One step at a time I guess…