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 ๐Ÿ™‚ ) 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!


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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ …. 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 ย ….. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚


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.

Those who know enough is enough will always have enough

Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun!

Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun!

Those who know enough is enough will always have enough!

Cool! Saw it on a T-shirt by the window of an Oxfam shop in Rundle Mall. This saying by Lao Tzu …. Those who know enough is enough will always have enough. Love it the minute I saw it. And how true … How it applies to life itself. Do I have enough? Yes, a resounding yes!ย 

I don’t know how to explain this feeling … It’s like I wake up every morning and feel there’s so much to be thankful for. My three girls. Yes, though Pam is in Sydney and Pauli is in Adelaide, I thank God for all the gadgets that make communication easier. Thank God for Skype, What’s App, Facebook, although, well, kids don’t add their parents on Facebook, Pam quite belligerently told me. Then there’s Pat. She’s all grown up and I do hope she will be less stressed in her career. But, having said that, I believe everyone has to find their own footing, got to carve their own paths. As their mum, I am responsible to them, not for them! But I believe in them and I know they are capable of taking care ย of themselves. I just gotta learn to stop worrying and let go! Hey, haven’t I always mouthed this mantra, “as you give your children roots, so you must give them wings.” Now I have to put it into practice … And learn to live my own life as I see it happening.ย 

Now what makes me happy? Helping people, sharing, caring. To my daughters, I am their mother, but now they need to go out into the world, to explore, to live their life. I want them to do this … That’s why it’s God’s invisible hand that provided this. I am thankful for SF, who made it possible for them.ย 

But what about him? How can I help him? Frankly, I dread listening to his whines and endless complaints about how life is so unfair. If only he learnt that one person can make a difference, and go out and do it. What about my sisters-in-law? We lived together for so many years, they’ve seen my girls grow up, why can’t they take life more positively? Why must they look so glum and look as if iron bars are weighing them down? Why do they always feel powerless to change, to do something for themselves?

I always believed things happen for a reason. There is a reason for me marrying SF, reason for me living with my in-laws, reason SF is doing his own thing and me doing mine, reason why my girls went overseas, reason why I met the Dalai Lama, and the most important, reason how I discovered my life’s purpose ….. If only I can help them discover theirs. How to, when SF is only interested in his own opinions and both my sisters-in-law don’t even want to talk to me? Well, goes back to my belief …. Things happen for a reason. Gotta figure out a reason for this one ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

I always see myself as a catalyst, and I feel lots of change coming this year. One, I’ve always shaped my life on other’s expectations of me. From TODAY, I will decide what I want to do with the rest of my life. On my own terms. With my own talents.ย 

Farmer’s Market: cool, warm and so full of laughter!

Farmer’s Market: Cool, Warm and so full of laughter

Morning sun with a wind that blows away the heat. We sit outside, the smells of bacon, egg and toast wafting from the stands outside the market. Peals of laughter, rich and fun, I hear as I write into my IPad, yes, it’s a Sunday morning and the people around me are having fun, just being themselves! This is people-watching at its best …. Families playing together, eating together, just happy together!

I don’t know if having acute observation awareness is good for me. I tend to read more into things and events I observe and try to give a meaning to it. Might be bad if I am cynical and morbid, but I think I try to read the good and hopeful in Everything I see ….. It’s the spirit of co-existence, co-operation, hope, giving. I see it here, I see it in Dharamsala, different kinds of happiness but same, same, as they would say, it comes from the heart, a big big heart … And it comes with smiles and laughter.

Pauli and me had breakfast at a cafe stand outside the market. Best bacon and egg wrap I ever tasted ๐Ÿ™‚ the market was refreshing …. Cooking class with a dash of come, enjoy and share; cherry juice, 2 kg produces 1 liter, amazing; so many different kinds of potatoes, fascinating; and wow! Unique flavours of ice-cream, so cool!









The Blue Planet Live! Finding the Equilibrium

20130210-130120.jpgThe Blue Planet Live! Finding the Equilibrium

No, it’s not a sci-fi movie! It’s the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra playing with images of some of the most fascinating creatures on earth on the giant screen. Why blue? Because it’s about the vast ocean, which occupy close to two-thirds of our earth. Yes, music can soothe the most savage beast ….. Music can also redeem the most savage beast in our so blinkered eyes, that they too have a part to play on this earth, that yes, they, too, have young to nurture and if we so much as look within ourselves …. Don’t we find that we are more savage than them? Why do we fear sharks and then take an adverse pleasure in eating their fins? Why do we do sport fishing and fall over each other to bring in the biggest, heaviest marlin?ย 

All this is food for thought (pun not intended!) but yesterday was more than just a concert. It’s enjoying it, not because it’s some famous, talked-about concert, but because I just enjoy it. Going with the flow, getting lost in the sounds, feeling the pleasure and the pain of each creature as the music lightens, quickens, gets heavy, gets ominous, but yes, bringing me into the moment. And yes, knowing Pauli enjoys it as much as I did. Makes me feel so happy that she took the trouble to book tickets so we both could enjoy it. You can’t describe feelings like this …. It’s just so special and real ๐Ÿ™‚

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