A new home in Arts Place!

Shifting out of Joo Chiat was a heartache for me …. as I’ve invested lots of love and care when I moved in in 2011. There was The Orange, where parents can linger over a cup of coffee while their children have fun learning in The Reading Room, my very own mini library in the attic. There’s The Storybox, where great ideas come to fruition onto Mac desktops. Where Young Reader Club magazine comes to life. Where Young Author Club books see the light of day. There’s The C-Lab, my own little room, where the sun shines in every morning …..

But then again, it’s not the size that matters, but the passion that is always there. I’ve found our niche in Waterloo Centre, where it’s been built as a Arts Place, and yes, as snug as I can be …. our little place to build the next generation of thinkers and writers. Welcome home, Janus team! And yes, the memorabilia does tell its own story ….. stories I’ll share as the Young Author Scheme saga continues!

The Young Author Scheme Wall ... proud moments for our published authors. The huge poster is the UN Charter!

The Young Author Scheme Wall … proud moments for our published authors. The huge poster is the UN Charter!

Welcome to Janus Education and Experiences & Experiments Books!

Welcome to Janus Education and Experiences & Experiments Books!

Our little corner where you'll find books of all genres and pictures of old Singapore! A true conversation piece!

Our little corner where you’ll find books of all genres and pictures of old Singapore! A true conversation piece!

Welcome to the interview couch, and home to the one-eyed dolphin. Many have come to snuggle, to share thoughts on how to build a better world, how to be more creative, and to rest a weary head!

Welcome to the interview couch, and home to the one-eyed dolphin and the uncrushable carrot. Many have come to snuggle, to share thoughts on how to build a better world, how to be more creative, and to rest a weary head!

Be entranced by the unique Janus hallway ,,, peppered with intriguing quotes and magnets collected from all corners of the world! Welcome to colourful cultural stimulation!

Be entranced by the unique Janus hallway ,,, peppered with intriguing quotes and magnets collected from all corners of the world! Welcome to colourful cultural stimulation!

Tucked away in the corner .... you can never believe the capacity of this storeroom! Come visit to see for yourself!

Tucked away in the corner …. you can never believe the capacity of this storeroom! Come visit to see for yourself!

What makes me tick? What makes me happy? My three girls and my computer!

What makes me tick? What makes me happy? My three girls and my computer!

The other side of me! Look up ... what do you see? Good old Tweety Bird and Cheery Chubby Hampy, the grown-up hamster and tucked in between is Keroppi the Frog!

The other side of me! Look up … what do you see? Good old Tweety Bird and Cheery Chubby Hampy, the oversized hamster and tucked in between is Keroppi the Frog!

Bought this ficus tree some two years ago .... now it stands tall outside!

With Ms Tay, my husband’s faithful secretary of 18 years! Bought this ficus tree some two years ago …. now it stands tall outside!

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Thank you, everyone, for making 2013 special for me!

2013 was the year I learnt about taking life one step at a time. I learnt that self-worth is more important than net worth. It’s not how much I have. It’s how much I enjoy that makes me happy.

2013 was the year I learnt that nothing in life is to be feared … it is only to be understood. I finally opened up about my life as a mother, daughter-in-law, daughter and wife. And it never felt so liberating!

2013 was the year I learnt that I cannot do everything on my own. There’s a greater force that guides me. I discovered the power of God’s love.

2013 was the year I discovered the meaning of reaching out to other women (and men) through my book, Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun! I gave two workshops on Writing From The Heart, with Women’s Initiative on Ageing Successfully (WINGS) and National Cancer Centre of Singapore (NCCS).

I loved 2013 ….. then, I received two emails which moved me to tears and made me more determined to inspire others to live their best life. I share both emails here, coz it made me want to hug my two friends for making 2013 so unbearably special for me! And yes, remembering the people and events I love and cherish through my photos ..

Dear Catherine,
I chance upon your book through a colleague who attended a talk about women’s menopause last month..I was immediately attracted to your book title…So I asked her to loan me your book …
It’s half read but i felt so connected …. it compelled me to write you an email…some excerpts of your book that touch me…my soul..probably I am going thru a midlife crisis ..
See I am turning 49 next yr..so close into the big 50…I am a divorcee with three kids living in Melbourne..
I felt intense loving bonding moments when I read about your CNY trip to spend with Pauli..the pelicans feed & walk in the park…simply magical…
I am motivated by your undying pursuit of your passion, your dream. so marvellous … I salute to your bravery…BRAVO!!
Its my hope to finish your book by 31 Dec 2013 to end the year and prepare to make more betterment in 2014..
Wishing you a magical new year!
Yes, things happen for a reason…
truly yours,

Hi Catherine,
Can’t let the year pass by without wishing you a grand new year ahead.
Been tardy again. Advent is behind us and so many things are still not done.
A number of books at the bedside vying for my attention. Store room needs a makeover.
Too laid back. Gotta find the zest of life again. Time fly off faster than a hurricane.
Gotta be more resolved to be more productive. Distractions, not busy schedule are the enemies
of good time management. Thus must instill a greater amount of discipline.
Will definitely spend some time each week, or perhaps every other day for some reflection, not just in the mind, but to put thoughts on paper, or on the computer. That’s my new year promise to myself. And you.
Thank you for the write trigger.
HAPPY NEW YEAR

Friends who taught me about the power of laughter and hope

Friends who taught me about the power of laughter and hope

Mrs Jetsun Pema, aka HH The Dalai Lama's sister, who taught me about unconditional love.

Mrs Jetsun Pema, aka HH The Dalai Lama’s sister, who taught me about unconditional love.

My N6 Cluster Advanced Young Author Scheme class .... where stories are best shared

My N6 Cluster Advanced Young Author Scheme class …. where stories are best shared

It was truly an Amazing Journey ... where giving taught my journeyers about life's blessings ...

It was truly an Amazing Journey … where giving taught my journeyers about life’s blessings …

Looking out from my room in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala .... overlooking the Himalayan plateau

Looking out from my room in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala …. overlooking the Himalayan plateau

Sitting among Men in White in Bangkok's celebration as UNESCO World Book Capital 2013

Sitting among Men in White in Bangkok’s celebration as UNESCO World Book Capital 2013

The Young Author Scheme in Manila .... yay! Finally going international!

The Young Author Scheme in Manila …. yay! Finally going international!

Happiness is doing simple things together! I love you, Paulina!

Happiness is doing simple things together! I love you, Paulina!

Cambodia taught me that every child has a dream. Every parent wants to fulfil this dream for them!

Cambodia taught me that every child has a dream. Every parent wants to fulfil this dream for them!

Coolest ride of my life. That's me, in the red-rimmed cap and sticking her head out whilst trying to keep her white hat on, is Paulina. Tis divine, flying over the Barossa Valley in Adelaide, and then partaking of a delicious champagne breakfast in a vineyard. Life begins at 50! And yes, this photo was inspiration for my book cover.

Coolest ride of my life. That’s me, in the red-rimmed cap and sticking her head out whilst trying to keep her white hat on, is Paulina. Tis divine, flying over the Barossa Valley in Adelaide, and then partaking of a delicious champagne breakfast in a vineyard. Life begins at 50! And yes, this photo was inspiration for my book cover.

Can a woman Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun! Sure, why not?

Can a woman Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun! Sure, why not?

Red, the colour of love!

Red, the colour of love!

Angels or rascals?

Angels or rascals?

I've come this far, jumped this high .... I know I can do it!

I’ve come this far, jumped this high …. I know I can do it!

Writing From The Heart workshop for NCCS. It was a truly humbling experience for me. I learnt the power of living life in the present.

Writing From The Heart workshop for NCCS. It was a truly humbling experience for me. I learnt the power of living life in the present.

Beijing in January 2013. Minus 17 degrees but loved the warm family togetherness

Beijing in January 2013. Minus 17 degrees but loved the warm family togetherness

My Learning Family Programme Alumni (LFPA) family. I learnt that social responsibility must come from the heart, not just from pockets.

My Learning Family Programme Alumni (LFPA) family. I learnt that social responsibility must come from the heart, not just from pockets.

An unforgettable homecoming! An unbelievable 2013!

It was a homecoming for me ….. Xmas lunch at Waterloo Centre, my previous office. Where I would be moving back to, come January 10. Seems like deja vu. But boy, I’ve learnt so much these 30 months. The power of quiet and silence, the power of teamwork, the power of belief in my dream. Hey, 2013 was a year of consolidation for me.
I managed to launch the Young Author Scheme in Manila, mentoring 25 seriously-talented 10 to 14 year olds. Next would be Hong Kong … And who knows where we would travel to next?
I finally completed my inspirational memoir …. And if I can coach kids to write, I can coach other women to do so, too!
Thanks to everyone who walked this journey with me ….. My ever-supportive husband, my family, my Janus team, my friends. Without them, there would be no tell-it-all. Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun! will kick off a series written by women, for women.
And I’ve also kicked off my workshop Writing From The Heart with the National Cancer Centre and WINGS (Women’s Initiative For Ageing Successfully).
And to make 2013 more memorable, the first in my series of Asia’s Lost Legends: Justice Bao and the Case of the Missing Coins, was nominated for Popular Book’s Reader’s Choice Award! What more can I ask for?
Of course, if you have read my Love! book, you’ll realize that Chapter 15 says it all: If you know enough is enough, you will always have enough!
And how do I know what is enough? I try to live each day well and go to sleep with forgiveness in my heart and lots of gratitude to God for the day that had just ended.
Merry Xmas, everyone, and a blessed 2014 to you! Remember to always find time for yourself!

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Welcome to the Only Classroom in Asia that gives you the license to dream and write!

Welcome to the Only Classroom in Asia that gives you the license to dream and write! And yes, to sell your creation to the world!

I took the first step in my dream! I  conducted the first trial programme in Manila. YAS and AWIS. And judging from the response of the parents who are asking if this is going to be an annual event, I believe I’d be heading to the Philippines very soon!

Two days passed by too quickly …. And running the Young Author Scheme in Manila taught me a few unknown truths:

1/ Children, whether in Singapore or elsewhere, are precocious and full of ideas! They want to create their own stories and just need that listening ear to gently nudge them in this direction. And they are so eager to share their ideas …. I am so proud of them!

2/ Boys will be boys, and girls will be girls. Most boys  will invariably go for science fiction, most girls will go for heartwarmers and magic and fantasy.

3/ The sense of accomplishment comes when seeing your work in print. A book you can call your very own. The child’s masterpiece. And parent and child just love this! And I love to see their eyes light up when they hold their book in their hands. I feel so happy for them!

And yes, as I am reading through the stories I’ve received so far …. I am again amazed at their writing talent. When you give a child the license to dream and to write, you are opening a whole new world to him. Through exploring, experiencing and experimenting, there’s so much to learn, so much you can’t get from textbooks! You just have to be aware of what’s happening around you.

And just hot off the press ….. There’s an enquiry from Hong Kong …. And yes, Oman. Praying real hard I get my first licensee soon!

Thank you, everyone who helped me get there and took care of me ….. Meliza, Kuya, Ate, and dear dear Aretha! And Neni, Aina and Roel …. this is so much fun. I really really enjoyed working with my young authors!

All excited to write my very first book!

All excited to write my very first book!

Who says writing can't be fun?!

Who says writing can’t be fun?!

Cheers! I can write. So can you!

Cheers! I can write. So can you!

Now let me see .... what's the message in your story?

Now let me see …. what’s the message in your story?

I have a great idea to share!

I have a great idea to share!

Don't disturb .... my ideas are a-brewing!

Don’t disturb …. my ideas are a-brewing!

Lots of drama in writing!

Lots of drama in writing!

Come .... share your story .... tell me, your protagonist lives in two worlds?! Uncanny. But possible ....

Come …. share your story …. tell me, your protagonist lives in two worlds?! Uncanny. But possible ….

I can write anywhere ...

I can write anywhere …

Everyone needs a break!

Everyone needs a break!

Planning my story ...

Planning my story …

At end of day .... tired but happy ... yay! I'm building the next generation of writers .... kids can write!

At end of day …. tired but happy … yay! I’m building the next generation of writers …. kids can write!

Oh yes! My very first book review

Every so often, I key in my name into Google Search to see what comes up. Every so often I am surprised by the number of “Catherine Khoo”(s) that come up. Then lo and behold, I came across on Page 9 a review. Of my book! Every author wants the lowdown on her book and I am no different. And this came from a male reviewer. I liked what Mr Ivan Chew said about my book so here it is, the unadulterated version, word for word of what he wrote. 🙂 Thank you, Ivan, for your candid comments. And yes, if you are reading this, I am very keen to work with other women on their stories …. if they would give me a chance to ….

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book review: Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun!: a mother’s lessons on love, hope, loss and the gifts of life

This one came in the mail for me to review. The book, targeted at young female readers, was easy to read. The tone and style was very personable.

Book review: Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun!: a mother's lessons on love, hope, loss and the gifts of life
Cover from: catherinekhoo.wordpress.com. All Rights Reserved.

My take-away from the book:

Crap will happen to anyone and everyone, at some point. No one is immune. The difference is how we choose to carry on.

Taking risks doesn’t always mean we will come up tops. But it also doesn’t mean we will always fail.

Exercise compassion. Life is not just about ‘me’.

Not entirely the way the author described, but I think not too far from it.

The author shared selective episodes from her life, explaining how she realised that one should love and take risks in life.

Right off the start, I sensed this was a woman who did not conform to conventional thinking, even as a teenager. Her mother had forbidden her to go on dates, and that the young Catherine should only focus on her studies. But she dated the boy anyway, even initiating the courtship rather than wait for him to act. The consequence was that her studies were affected, and so did the boy’s.

Before you wonder what sort of message the author is imposing on young impressionable minds, the truth is that many of our friends (perhaps you and I) went through the same, in different degrees. There may be more ‘teen rebels’ among us than we care to acknowledge.

The key difference, I thought, was that a person like Catherine Khoo consistently applied her optimistic outlook towards life.

She wrote in another of her blog:

… I’ve lived this maxim since I was a teenager … and strange enough, it applies so much more as I grow older. Sure, sometimes I jump in without thinking of the consequences, and I fail, but how many times have I brushed off the blood and dust and moved on? Think of it this way, at least I figured out another way not to do it! Truth be told, though…I love this journey

Can we truly have a happy life just by living our dreams?

Cynics may say that there are those who have tried to do just that, and they end up being decrepit and miserable.

Perhaps in anticipation of that, the author peppers her anecdotes about seeing life optimistically.

Part of her credibility arose from her managing and growing her own business. I think it takes a feisty no-nonsense approach to do that, in addition to being a mother, a wife, and a daughter-in-law. If that’s not enough, try starting a writing scheme for teens.

I did not think the author suggests that one should one up-end our lives and gallivant halfway around the world. You get a sense that risk-taking has to be tempered with an underlying sense of responsibility first.

Still, I would not have done some of the things she did, no matter what you tell me. For example, her episode with the illegal taxi ride in a foreign country, where she almost became a victim of a robbery. If I learnt my wife/ mother/ sister did just that (accept rides from strangers), I would be very, very angry. It seemed reckless.

For the most part, I empathised with her stories. Like how she walked out on her husband one time, feeling that she was being unfairly put down by her spouse. As a husband myself, it made me reflect on my words and deeds towards my wife.

One thing I felt the book fell short was that flow of the chapters can appear to be disjointed at times — though this could be said to be the online-diary writing style. Also, I was left with the impression that there could have been a lot more interesting stuff to be told, but weren’t.

I would have wanted to read more was her trials and tribulations in starting and sustaining the Young Authors Club, for one. What went through her mind when she was asked to set up the club? Did she see a business opportunity first, or the social cause?

So, here are a few things that I would be interested in reading, perhaps in her next book:

  • Stories, as told by other woman, whom she met along the way.
  • Interesting stories of the children and teens whom she have met, through the club she set up.
  • The challenges in running a business, never mind being a businesswoman.
  • What was it really like when she “shattered the traditional Japanese male enclave when she became the only woman editor-in-chief of two Japan-based magazines published in Singapore, a position she held for seven years” (see this).

Overall, this would make a good book discussion for teens. Or among teens and parents (I guess the teens would have to be forced to attend such a session, lol).

In a practical and pragmatic society like Singapore, some parents will not agree with the premise behind her book’s title. The call to “love and live dangerously” was something that goes against conventional thinking when I was growing up, and in a way it’s still very much the covert values most of us go by.

This was Catherine Khoo’s fourth book. It is currently available at major bookstores here, like MPH, Kinokuniya, and Times Bookshop.

Her books are also available at the NLB libraries.

Catherine also blogs at www.catherinekhoo.sg/the-meaning-of-education.

It’s Not What You Look At, It’s What You See That Matters

Welcome to Chapter 3 of my book, Love! Live Dangerously! And have Fun! This chapter is about my dream …. to give every child this right to dream and write. Frankly, I don’t know how I am going to do it. I really, seriously, hope to get a licensee, a strategic partner, who can see what I see. Yes, I’ve had interest from Indonesia, Thailand and Manila. I am keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed that I would be able to bring 10 years of my hard work overseas. Please, Please, make this miracle happen!

Chapter 3

It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see, that matters.
Say that again. This has always been my mantra. I practice this with myself, my children, my in-laws, my team. What’s past is history, learn from it and move on. Take the journey, experience it, enjoy it!
It’s strange that I am writing this here, right on top of the Great Wall of China, on the stone slab, on my IPad. Just imagine thousands of years ago, a young rebellious visionary united all the disparate states and called it Zhongshan Guo or Middle Kingdom. This young 20-something year-old then wanted to keep the “barbarians” off his new found kingdom and built this massive wall.
2,000 years later, now in 2012, it is a tourist attraction with even a cable car leading to it. But imagine the young emperor who had this insane desire to protect the country he founded. Who might not even live to see the Great Wall he envisioned finished before he died. But did he ever worry about it? History has it that he searched for immortality. But he carried on his life’s work. It was what drives him. I am sure he saw a China united, where his people thrived. But first he had to build. His dream kept him going ….. With a fervor that earned him a place in the history books. It was his legacy to the world!
I stand in awe at the very rampart used to keep off invaders. I marvel at what he has done, one lone man who built his own life around his people. I don’t think he cared about how history judged him. I don’t think he worried about how he could get the money to build it. I don’t think he cared about himself. He had a dream, a passion, and he lived it! He came. He saw. He did something!
Is this me? I came. I looked at the children around me. I want to give them hope. Books are my life. Writing and publishing gives me hope. It gives me life. I want to give this to them. I saw that I could build the next generation of thinkers and writers with my Eco-system.
I spent 10 years putting this whole concept together. Can I now build this with the children around the world? Catherine Khoo came. She saw. She created the Young Author family. Now, can she take an extra step and bring this globally? With a team of five, and a super-oversized dream of giving every child the right to read and write?
Why do I do it? Could it be a legacy I want to leave to my three girls? Yes, and something more … I remember Margaret Ko, mother to 13-year-old Nicholas who I mentored in the Advanced Young Author Scheme. “Nicholas did not tell me about his writing,” she shared when she dropped by the office. “I never knew he could write. And especially the last chapter. I was so touched. I felt he was trying to talk to me through this.”
And I realized that the Young Author Scheme actually do build bonds. For what is writing about? It’s about sharing. It’s about communication. Communication that transcend spoken words. For we write what we feel.
I believe in myself. I believe in my dream. I believe in giving. This is what drives me. From the Young Author Scheme to the Young Author Club to the Young Author Award, to the Young Reader Club, I’ve built this dream. Despite the naysayers, despite the countless years of no-pay, despite the “hey-you-are-running-a-business, you-are-just-putting-bums-on-seats” mentality of many businesspeople I’ve met, I’ve done it! I now need to go further.
Can I? On the Great Wall of China, one man did it. The Unique Classroom. Creative education. Building a library of Asian literature. For children. By children. Can one woman do it? I believe I can.

Write Your Own Inspirational Bestseller!

Dear Wicked Witty Women (yes, you know you are ….)

Would you dare to write your own book? And get a chance to be published? Not only that, inspire another person to share her story through your book?

I’m sorry, gentlemen, it’s only for women! Join Catherine Khoo, author of the inspirational memoir, Love! Live Dangerously! And have Fun! as she takes you through moments of love, hope, loss and fun …. And best of all, to write your own story for the next book in the series, under the Wicked Witty Women imprint. Serious! But come prepared for a programme that’s sure to challenge your innermost desires and fan your passion …. And yes, you’ll get to be part of this exclusive club where being wicked and witty is the name of the game!

You’ll need to come with the following:
1/ an open heart to share
2/ a listening ear
3/ a sense of humour (or intending to cultivate one)
4/ patience and perseverance
5/ and yes, dying to write the next inspirational bestseller!

Venue: 442-A Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427655
Dates: Aug 14, 15, 16, 17  Time:  14:00 to 18:00 (tea provided) or Sept 20, 21, 27, 28 Time: 14:00 to 18:00 (tea provided)
Fee: $380
Limited to maximum 8 wicked witty women per intake. Call 63368985 or register your interest by emailing catherine@catherinekhoo.sg

Can a woman Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun! Sure, why not?

Can a woman Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun! Sure, why not?

I've come this far, jumped this high .... I know I can do it!

I’ve come this far, jumped this high …. I know I can do it!

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