Those who dare to teach, should never cease to learn!

Oh! It's so enabling to know one is never too old to learn!

Oh! It’s so enabling to know one is never too old to learn!

Those who dare to teach, should never cease to learn ….. Saw this on the signboard of a training company while on my way to a WordPress class and I thought, how appropriate! I always find there’s something new to learn everyday, and yes, learning can come from everywhere, the people I meet, the children I teach, the parents and teachers I work with and yes, my family.

Perhaps it’s my training as a journalist, perhaps it’s innate … it doesn’t matter, what matters is how I view the world around me. I open my eyes every morning, stretch, turn to my husband and caress his face or just hug him (coz he doesn’t sleep very well … reason is I snore pretty loudly shh! It’s pretty embarrassing to share but makes me feel better that I’ve said it. There! Now you know 🙂 ) so yes, I open my eyes, stretch, reach out and say hello to the world, plant my feet firmly on the floor and tell myself, “Thank you for giving me another day!”

And as I work with the people around me ….. I am very delighted to be able to learn new things. In this session, I learnt about how to create websites using WordPress. Tough for a lot of people, especially people my age, in fact I was not surprised to note that out of the 7 in my class, 5 are above 40 and one is 63. Two are property agents, three are venturing into their own business, one just quitted coz he felt under-appreciated, and one is working in a bank and looks really tired. What a motley crowd. And all of them are learning to survive, either for a passive income or to keep in touch with their customers who do everything online. From looking for a house, to looking at samples, to looking for a course, today’s customer is so tech savvy. I think all of us try to make sense of it …. Some do, some struggle, but hey, I really admire this bunch who dare venture to learn new things. And yes, though I don’t think I can really learn everything, I am satisfied I managed to grasp the essentials. I learn when I understand and then I can remember, that’s my learning style, and I am so glad that I can put two and two together. Whew! Not that simple, but well, it’s not rocket science either!

Which brings me to my point …. One should never cease to learn. And you know what I learnt today? In realizing we don’t have all the answers, we begin to find humility!


My WordPress Class …. Didn’t realize creating my own website could be so empowering!



Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood!

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood

SF and I drove my Fong and Kwee to the hospital today for his scan. Ever since Kwee has been diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer, life has been quite a downward spiral for him. Yes, despite the outpouring of concern from Fong who spends practically all her available time with him, and Hoon and Yin plying him with all sorts of anti-cancer herbs and supplements, to SF and me driving him to hospital early morning …. Frankly, I think what the guy needs is to mix around with people his age or a support group so he could share his pain and frustrations …. Instead of moping about at home and feeling so useless. The poor guy. I think too much attention by my sisters-in-law, although, yes, they mean well, and their morbid sense of prolonging his life by believing in every anti-cancer herb that come their way, is making him very very losing control of his life. He’s so fragile now, staying home too much has deprived him of his sense of surroundings. And because he is at home staring at the four walls all day … He would wonder about life and feel helpless and the depression would start …. And everyone would be at a loss on what to do …. And SF and my sisters-in-law would fret and worry … Why can’t they see that what is important is for the guy to get a grip on his life, go out, get some friends his age and do some work? Or volunteer? He needs a support group to feel needed, that he’s not a burden to anyone (which I’m sure he feels now). I think this is what community is about. In Singapore, the endless drive to keep up with rising prices and maintain a Swiss standard of living sans the Swiss lifestyle is not helping much …..

So here, again, is the stark difference between how I live my life and SF’s family living theirs. I think losing Daddy at 23 propelled me to suddenly have to fend for my family. Having Pat at 25 added a certain kind of responsibility …… So at a ripe age of 25, I juggled multiple roles of wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law and to top it all, studies and a career. Man! Was it tough? Now, looking back at it after 30 years …. I don’t think so. I think I just had to grow up overnight 🙂 For SF’s family, there was complete reliance on their parents till he turned 50 …. So I think, yes, we fear illness, and suddenly to face it, especially when it attacks a loved one, is a fear we grapple with everyday. I think it’s the fear of growing old, the fear of being alone, the fear of not being useful anymore that shakes them more than the illness itself! Fear paralyses. Worry paralyses. We just have to live our life! Today. Now!

Do I fear growing old? Do I fear being alone? Yes, before my life turned topsy-turvy at 44. Suddenly a great big storm came and I had to change … I had to learn new things. I had a choice. To admit defeat and tell myself: I am useless. I can’t do anything. Or to take a long hard look at myself and say, there must be a reason why this is happening to me. I shared all this in my book. In essence, Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun! is about what life should be. So, when I say I am beyond fear 🙂 …. I mean that “nothing is life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.”


Finally, after 10 years …. Light at the end of the tunnel

I've come this far, jumped this high .... Please, please show me the light!

I’ve come this far, jumped this high …. Please, please show me the light!

Finally, after 10 years …. Light at the end of the tunnel

There’s a timeline in my vision  ….. 2013 is the year my The Unique Classroom will go places. Don’t know how, don’t know where, but I know it will travel. I took baby steps in 2004 in but yes, it was more to get out of a helpless situation, more to find myself again. Didn’t help that my partner was the retired Director-General of Education …. Think he and I expected everyone to come knocking on our door, but no, connections don’t work when you are no longer in your position. I ventured again in 2007 to Hanoi, at the behest of again, a retired senior government officer, whose wife was in education, and who, again, knew next to nothing about running a business ….. Scary part was, he thought what he needed to do was to invest and everyone else did the running for him. Of course, the “everyone else” was me! But truth be told, all these failures taught me a lesson ….. Never have a partner who is from the civil service, because they know next to nothing about running a business 🙂

So now, 10 years later …. I feel it in my bones that I can do it! As I discuss with Robin and Winston, I know finally my licensing is going to happen. I want to get a licensee by May 28, 2013. Where would he/she come from? Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia? I’m priming for any of these countries. I know I can find one. Come on, you can do it, Ms Catherine Khoo!

And yes, now to find an investor, a partner, a licensee ….. someone who also cherishes the same dream as I. To build the next generation of thinkers and writers. Who believes in my vision: One Child. One Story. One Dream Fulfilled. Okay, Lord, you have led me so far ….. I believe you will give me an answer. I believe I have reached the end of the tunnel …. Maybe a few more steps, so please, please, show me the light.

Be with people who know what they have, when they have you!

Some thirty years ago, when I signed on the dotted line with SF, there was this decision we made to live with his parents. Of course, there were his two sisters, of marriageable age, but, sigh, very, very, not attached. And so, things fell neatly into place …. The kampung house they lived in was only to be demolished and they had to live in a flat, so SF and his elder sister applied for a 5-roomer and we moved in. I loved my parents-in-law. My mum-in-law was really sweet …. She cared for me like she would her daughters, brewing all sorts of nutritious soups for each one of us. We spoke in Hokkien, even though she was Hainanese-Cantonese. My sis-in-laws did their own thing ….. Then along came my three girls, and we were all one big happy family.

Today, as I write this, I wonder. I am grateful to both of them. My girls grew up with them and I could see they have nurturing instincts. Don’t all of us women? They loved my three girls and yes, though, sometimes I felt that they interfered a lot … By being too overly-concerned and too much of a worry-wort ….didn’t help too that one had a syndrome of “learned helplessness.” Then things changed when my Mum-in-law contracted cancer and my brother decided to meet his Maker … All in three short months. Scary, isn’t it?

Things went downhill, really downhill 😦 My mum struggled with depression. I struggled with depression, (I am writing this while having lunch in SQ278 heading back to Singapore from Adelaide, where I spent a glorious 8 days just being a mother, friend and teenager to Paulina, so forgive me if I sound too energized and upbeat!) Eight again, man, that’s my signature number, and yes, gotta invest in 0278 coz my luggage, which weighed 27.8 kg went thro. And My baggage allowance is only 20kg!

Okay, where was I? Oh yes, depression. It’s scary, and I lost 10 kg in 2 months …. It’s like you feel everything is dark, you wake up and don’t want to do anything, you just want to close your eyes and sleep …. and right smack in the middle of all this turbulence …. I had just taken over Janus Education and became managing director, instructor, marketing, administrative officer all rolled into one! Talk about family togetherness. I think all of us were struggling …. And none of us figured out what to do … I am not plugging my book, in fact, I am plugging it shamelessly 🙂 🙂 find out more in my latest book, Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun! Ooh! This is so deliciously riveting, the orange, the sparkling …. The food I mean, nothing else. And of course, my book!

Okay, forgive the deviation. It’s hard to talk about it. But I discovered writing about it is so therapeutic … We live under one roof, but we hardly ever talk! Don’t know why, don’t know if it’s coz we have different outlook about life but hey, I lived with them for 19 years until 2003, then we moved back together back in 2007 …. But we hardly ever talk! So everyday when I get back, I’ll go to my study room, which is Pam’s room, and do my own stuff. Used to bug me …. Wonder why we became this way (strains of Cliff Richard’s We Don’t Talk Anymore 🙂 ) but yes, I wonder. But I guess if this didn’t happen, I won’t have time to write, to read and of course, to travel on my own! Yes, I think both my sis-in-law are good people, but too hemmed in by rules and conformity and fear of death. God, everyone fears death, which is why we have to live now! They are enduring life. They have to embrace it! C’est la vie! There is so much to be thankful for!







My Life, My Way



Simple Pleasures, yet so Meaningful!

Happiness is doing simple things together!

Happiness is doing simple things together!


Please feed me ... I don't bite

Please feed me … I don’t bite


Look! Birds of a feather flock together!

Look! Birds of a feather flock together!


Of course, being the biggest, I get to eat first!

Of course, being the biggest, I get to eat first!


I'm not showing off ... but look at my long neck :-)

I’m not showing off … but look at my long neck 🙂


You like my company, right? Not the bread I have in my hands ....

You like my company, right? Not the bread I have in my hands ….


How do I describe happiness? Can you see it in my face? Thank you, Pauli, for the awesome moments .... Thank you for being you! There was so much I learnt about being a mother from you.

How do I describe happiness? Can you see it in my face? Thank you, Pauli, for the awesome moments …. Thank you for being you! There was so much I learnt about being a mother from you.

This morning, Pauli and me woke up at 7:30. We were out of the house by 7:45 and where did we go? So simple, yet it gave me so much joy ….. We went to the river Torrens to feed the ducks, okay, swans and pelicans, I think. Pauli bought a huge loaf of bread for $1, we took a simple breakfast of ham and cheese toast, she with cappuccino, me with latte, and we walked in the morning sun, no, strolled, in the warmth and carefree sunlight thro the wide streets lined with 18th and 19th century buildings …. Through the new casino, and lo, and behold, amazing greenery and a river where ducks and swans share with boys practicing in their 4-man canoe. Ooh! So glorious …. I spent one whole hour feeding the ducks, the swans and the white pelicans … And felt so much at peace with nature.

Then Pauli and me walked through the streets and I landed up in the Migration Museum. Spent another hour there. Why do people migrate? For a better life! I think everyone wants to stay in their country, but sometimes they just can’t. Then I visited the State Library. You know what I love? Big, open spaces, where I can sit and just write. That’s what I love about Adelaide …. Why I travel on my own, why I need quiet coz it frees the mind to think, to rejuvenate, to travel….. Dharamsala gives me this peace too. And I realize that when a person says he is tired, it’s more mental than physical, which is why a good night’s sleep is important to rest the mind. And meditation too!

Sometimes we are so caught up with the self-inflicted pressure of “not enough time” that we fail to notice the quality of our way of way. We rush, we have a thousand and one things to do, and then there’s more work to do after we finish what we’ve done. That’s the lifestyle in Singapore …. And I am really, really tired of it. I’ve been called ‘relaxed,’ “don’t care less” and just “plain lazy.” And do I care a damn? Writing about it …. Yes, it irks me that people who don’t know any better think this of me. Frankly, I feel so helpless watching SF moan and gripe and I want to tell him, hey, take a break, but he’s so caught up in whatever he does that he doesn’t see beyond it. And so, invisible chains of “i-can’t-stop-coz-what-else-can-I-do?” mentality grips him. I’m really sorry for him …. I think I would do something about this. I admire what Raymond did …. He walked away from all the pressure …. Yes, I think the reason why I came was to get away for a while, to collect my thoughts …. 2013 is a year I feel a big change coming …. And it has to start with me. What can I do for the people I love?

Things happen for a reason. There’s a reason I came into SF’s life. There’s a reason why I am living with my sisters-in-law who act like I’m invisible. “Thank God for the difficult people in my life, that’s exactly who I don’t want to be!” I’ll add on …. “I’ll show them love and compassion so they’ll learn life is not so difficult after all!”

And how do I show them love and compassion? More than what i’ve always shown them: forgiveness. How? For the first time in my life, i’m stumped. Gotta figure out this one.

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