When I go out to meet the light, the shadow of my body follows me, but the shadow of my spirit precedes me and leads the way to an unknown place
- Kahlil Gibran

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Baby steps towards abundance

Yesterday I was at work and I took notice of a T-Shirt that my female coworker had on.  This girl has tremendous charisma at work, people love her company and quick wit.  I find myself drawn to her often simply because of her type of energy and I like how she keeps me humble with her sharp tongue.  In the past I'd sometimes felt cut down by some of her remarks and there were times when I'd wondered if she really meant her words; but after one incident whereby she'd turned around after a particularly cutting episode and sat down to reassure me, I've not doubted our mutual admiration for each other since.   

On that day her T-shirt was emblazoned with the words "I am not paid enough to be nice to you".  As I walked by her desk I pulled out a $10 bill and handed it to her with a smile.  "How much time of niceness will this get me?"  Though momentarily caught off-guard she quickly replied, "well, that's it really...", and she held her hand out for more.  I was hardly surprised and responded with "ooo, that's expensive let me save up some more" and walked back to my desk without the money.  I considered getting the money back but decided it was worth the amusement and I knew that it would leave a lasting impact if I didn't request for it back.  She did try once after to return it to me but I declined.  Plus taking the money back would be a fearful move and I didn't want to foster a scarcity mentality about money.  

Towards the end of the day I had just ended a call with a taxi dispatcher to arrange for a pickup to go home.  I saw a different coworker walk by at that moment, it was someone that had almost shared a taxi with me once.  I asked her in passing if she had a ride home and she said no, her husband was not picking her up today and she would be glad to share a cab with me to Midvalley.  And so we did, as we arrived at Midvalley the fare was precisely $20 and she pulled out a $10 to hand to me.  I was thrilled to see the $10 come back to me so quickly.  I insisted she hold onto it, it felt good to practice abundance yet again.   

Friday, February 27, 2009

The New Zealand itinerary starts to take shape

I am in the process of forming a rough itinerary for New Zealand in April.  I'll be on the South Island most of the time, the terrain is more rugged and breathtaking on the South Island.  I'll be using Queenstown as my base of activity.   

I've been researching New Zealand.  And I've learned that there are 10 sheep for every person in New Zealand, so that's 70 million sheep roughly.  Also, New Zealanders love the outdoors and adventure, I believe bungee jumping originated from the South Island and there is a relatively new fad I've heard about today called Zorbing that also originated from New Zealand (www.zorb.com).  I just had a discussion with a coworker who's done it, apparently you can put soap and water inside along with yourself.  Useful if you've ever wanted to know precisely how your laundry feels when you stick it in the washing machine.   

For me, I'll be doing more trekking.  Perhaps a camino New Zealand style?  New Zealand prides itself on it's natural heritage, it has 15 National Parks that cover roughly 10% of the country.  The government has organized 9 'Great Walks' to cater to tourism mostly.  You can read about them here:  New Zealand Great Walks  Mervin and I will do at least two of them.  If we can swing it we'll also do a 'Great Walk' on the North Island that is actually a four day kayak.   

Of the two confirmed, this is one: 

                             Milford Sound (4 days)

and this is the other: 

                                   Routeburn Flats (4 days)

I'll also spend about a week in Auckland on the North Island to do a job hunt. 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

K is robbed... again

Four days ago, I was at the bank cashing a cashier's check from my employer. I sat awaiting my turn and observed the middle aged Chinese men stroll to the counter to cash out. Each one seemed to consume an inordinate amount of time, I would hear the whirr of the bank teller's cash counting device run more than once and then the men would walk away with thick wads of cash stuffed into their bulging pockets. Here I was observing the traditional chinese way of conducting business in cash only, I suspected most of these wealthy yet unassuming men didn't have a credit card to their name. I wondered how they could leave the bank unmolested.

Just 10 minutes after that thought, as I had left the bank and was driving away my friend K called me on the phone sounding very distraught. Coincidentally, she too had just left the bank after withdrawing her savings but someone had just robbed her of the money as she was getting into her car. I was stunned by the synchronicity of the events plus the concurrence of my earlier thought. She tells me she needs $500 right away. I tell her to meet me at my workplace and I lend her the money. When I see her she is a mess, "why do these things happen to me? I am a good person!! I worked so hard for that money and once again I am robbed within 6 months". She was alluding to months back when someone had broken into her home and stolen her laptop and other valuables. I console her, "there is a balance, you will get this back someday, you're so young. One day a few years from now you'll be making so much money that this incident will seem like chump change".

I give her a hug and she breaksdown in sobs, clearly she is under quite a strain. I ask her why on earth she was taking so much money out and she replies that she had just decided to move to Australia and was withdrawing her savings. She has a place in Sydney and she's moving into it. She invites me to stay at her place in Sydney when I am passing through Australia enroute to New Zealand and I accept since my flight overnights in Sydney. I'll likely stay a few more days in Sydney actually.

We are Mirrors

In my tennis circle is a man whom I get coaching from regularly, his name is A. I enjoy his company, he is an easy going person and has a lot of tennis knowledge to share. From time to time, I play tennis with another woman named L at a different court. When I told L that I'd been coaching with A she remarked that her coach T told her that the other tennis coaches don't like A, he's very arrogant, keeps to himself has a bad reputation etc.

I had lunch with A one day after practice, things were going amicably until I mentioned that I knew coach T whereupon the conversation shifted to lambasting T's reputation for a long duration. I was bemused to see just how deeply A's dislike of T ran, they had known each other for 20 years and clearly there was a long ongoing rift between them. What I found astounding was that the litany of complaints A had against T were precisely the same ones as I had heard from T (indirectly through L) about A, plus a few more grievances. It was not a pleasant experience. I also recognized that a couple of extra grievances A held against T about on court behaviour were directly observed by me about A himself. It dawned on me that these two coaches were mirroring each other to a significant degree. If I were to point that out to either one of them, I'm quite certain they would be offended to hear about the comparison to the other.

Sages believe that what we cannot see clearly in ourselves is what we most often see in others. We dislike and judge the aspects in others that we dislike and judge the most in ourselves. What we see is what we project, therefore everyone we see and meet is a mirror for us to learn about ourselves. I recently read this and until that conversation I had not seen the truth of it so keenly.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My hiatus

There were months of inactivity on my Blog.  From September until February.  During this time I struggled to maintain my outlook on life as one of adventure, discovery and creation.  I didn't feel compelled to share this little downturn in my life and certainly it didn't seem to fit under the title of my Blog.  I know I can create this perfect job for myself in New Zealand because I did it here in Malaysia though had since slipped out of my grasp and in retrospect as I mentioned in a previous post, perhaps I needed to learn to be ok without it first.  

When I spent the first half of my time here in Malaysia, I didn't pursue a job search and folks would ask me why I wasn't looking for a job.  I didn't feel a strong desire to do so because I could still sustain myself without one a while longer and I was enjoying the vast free time to pursue my own interests.  My response was on more than one occasion, "I'm not looking for a job because the right job will come to me."  I left it at that, without a thought about how that might possibly be.  And yet it did happen that way.  I got an email from someone who knew someone that I had distributed my email address to at a work convention months back.  He was a Regional Director for a company that fit my profile very well.  He told me that he would like to meet me at a location that unbeknownst to him couldn't have been much closer to my residence.  It was literally across the street.  The perfect job had come to me.  It was a senior position, a career path, overseas postings on projects, they would train me... I was offered a contract but I waited too long to commit to it because I held out negotiating for a better compensation package.  In the end,  by the time I agreed to it they had frozen their hiring - the global financial crisis had hit.   

My morale was crushed for a long time, and I became embittered.  I would have been fine if I hadn't gotten hooked onto this carrot dangled in front of me.  It was a sudden and dramatic turn from gratitude and wonder to anger and resentment.  Two months later as my savings ran low, a different worthwhile job came to me in October and I'll be doing this work until the end of February.

During the months of December and January, I returned to California and Texas.  The family had gathered in my younger brother's home in Plano, Texas for Christmas and then we did a road trip through the cities of Texas - Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Houston.  The time spent in California was apart from my family in order to spent it with the dear friends that I had missed for so long.  That was very fulfilling; however there was one dear friend that had moved to Seattle.  She had been a big part of my experience in California and left an indelible impression in my life.  There are some people that give your outlook on life a good wipe down and she also added a lot of good memories to my collection.  I'm certainly not the same person because of her.  

Another thing that happened during this time - my Godmother succumbed to cancer.  

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Zealand it is...


This is incredible. Today I booked my ticket to Christchurch, New Zealand and yesterday I had no idea I would do so.  It came to me over lunch... 
  • My Malaysian friend Mervin called me up two days ago while I was at work and mentioned that he was taking a trip to New Zealand soon.  I have not heard from Mervin in many months, we agreed to meet for lunch today.  I met Mervin in Spain last May through a mutual friend from Italy, coincidentally Mervin and I also have a mutual friend in New Zealand and he's on his way to stay at her place during his visit.  This in itself is an amazing pair of coincidences.
  • At lunch he tells me that he is booked to arrive at Christchurch on April 1st, he just got a great airfare.  Only US$600 for the roundtrip, that is 50% off.  The deal ends on this day.  And the travel date is perfect since I am scheduled to take a professional certification exam at the end of March in Singapore, thereafter I have no commitments.
  • By the end of lunch I am convinced it is the right step to take, though I have no work permit nor occupation awaiting me, but I have this knowing that it is a good move.  Plus didn't I just make a declaration recently that I would find the perfect job in New Zealand?  
  • After lunch I tell a coworker that I am moving to New Zealand, she says that she has good I.T. recruitment contacts there to share with me.  
I am amazed at the sudden drawing of people and events guiding me towards my goal.  

Letter to a child

I watched the movie Benjamin Button twice.  I wouldn't say it's a Blockbuster or a classic but there are some scenes that are quite moving.  The movie is about a man that ages backwards, he is born with an old form and then grows younger instead of older.  It is a lovely idea because it compels the viewer to reexamine the beliefs and attitudes they have that comprise their life.  Towards the end of the movie is a letter that is written to his daughter.  It touched me a great deal with its simple honest summation of the man's life experience so I found the quote and am posting it here:

"For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Small Review

In review of my decision to leave my life in California behind, I can see how I have created for myself the situation to claim a greater freedom.  I surrendered most of my possessions, left behind dear friends, a good job, my car and the sanctuary of my own apartment.  There have been hardships and I didn't expect my life to look this way when I made the decison to leave.  I thought that I would have found the dream occupation by now and initially I was angry that my risky move had not paid off.  But one day it hit me that having that dream occupation handed to me immediately without tribulations would have done nothing for my freedom for I would then still be bound by the fear of not having the job.  And instead of raging against God... I grew a gratitude for the hardships because I chose to interpret them as lovingly administered opportunities to practice making liberating choices.  What helped me is the attitude of the Warrior to view life not as SUFFERING but rather one of CHALLENGE.  In our breakdowns we are challenged to practice calling forth a higher Self. In the moments of greatest challenge, as I made choices to NOT suffer i.e. give away my personal power, I gained greater freedom.  Knowing that there is a state of bliss residing within that I can return to in the simplest of circumstances.  From this knowing I shall create the perfect job for me.  I am a more powerful creator now. 

I sense the perfect job for me is in New Zealand.  So I declare that the perfect job for me awaits in New Zealand and I shall find it shortly after March.   

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Of the Four Agreements

It happened not too long ago that I was sitting with my friend J at the cafe downstairs from my apartment.  We were having breakfast and discussing Toltec wisdom.  There was a book I had read a few months ago called The Four Agreements.  She asked me for the list of the Four Agreements again, I had given it to her verbally a few days ago.  This time I wrote it down for her.  One of the items of the list read "Don't Take Things Personally", it seemed a rather commonly held notion.  But yet very, very few practice it regularly.  5 minutes later J's boss showed up with some people and they sat down at the table within earshot of ours.  They started speaking in Chinese, and I noticed J's expression turn dark.  "She's not supposed to be doing that, she tells us not to do that and she's doing it herself.  I don't like being lied to."  She explained that it is against company policy to provide work services independently.  I reminded her of the list I had given her and pointed out the item about taking things personally.  “How often do we speak truthfully to each other?  Very little of what we express is actually what is real, a lot of it is just automated response to a given situation, or an exaggeration of a fact.  Especially if it is a personal statement about ourselves, the majority of us would prefer not to reveal anything intimate about ourselves, we rather cover it up.  We can’t even be honest with our OWN selves, how do you expect us to be truthful with each other?”  She mulled over this briefly then slowly nodded in agreement.   

I Dream of Tennis

Last night I had a tennis dream.  I have not had a tennis dream in months, I think this one was inspired by recent improvements in my game because I have been having regular tennis coaching twice a week.  Tennis dreams are awesome for me, some people get excited dreaming they've won the lottery but for me nothing tops sharing the court with a tennis great such as Roger Federer or Rafal Nadal.  In my dream... 

I am playing tennis at an indoor exhibition event against the Spaniard Rafael Nadal and I am hitting winners against him.  The crowd is amazed at the unranked underdog giving the number one player in the world a hard time.  But alas, Nadal's superior shot making ability and greater experience allows him to prevail and snatch the first set from me.  Then for reasons unknown to me, I leave the venue to go buy new tennis balls.  On the way back I get lost and I frustratedly try to return but keep ending up at the wrong place, eventually I make it back but now I have forfeited the match.  Nadal offers a few words of consolation to me briefly and I can tell that I have earned his respect.  I think to myself, " I can't believe I just played against Nadal, wait till I tell my buddy Greg about this!!"  

Then it hits me that this is too good to be true and then the revelation strikes me in my dream that I am dreaming.  I hate that realization when it happens, it is heart wrenching.  

More on tennis...

For Valentine's I received a gift from my friend S, it was one of the best surprises I've had in a long time.  It is the same shirt that Roger Federer wore to the recent Australian Open, ok well not precisely the same shirt but the same model.  I admire Roger Federer a great deal, he is undoubtedly a mentor to me.  The next day I show up on the tennis court wearing THE SHIRT.  I play amazing tennis with the shirt.  I can actually FEEL like RF, I move on the court like he does and hit some amazing shots.  I actually wonder if the guys are noticing that I am so much like RF right now.   

Later that day I show up at the Nike Store in MidValley.  "Show me everything you have that RF wears".  The salesgirl directs me to the tennis section and the rack is full of different shorts and shirts, at the end I recognize the same shirt I own.  She points to it, I am a little annoyed to learn from her that this is all they have in their selection.  "What about these shorts?  She pulls out a hideous blue pair, "Rafael Nadal wears these".  I barely control a neutral tone replying curtly "no, thanks.  I'm only interested in RF's stuff."  I learn that the entire rack except for the one shirt on the end is Rafa's items.  "Maybe you have his shoes?  I ask hopefully.  No.  Boxers?  No.  Anything with his initials on it?  Not even.  Last year it was different, this year... all because The Rajah lost the Australian Open and Wimbledon to Rafal Nadal and is no longer #1. 

Doing a Not-Doing

I've been reading a book called The Complete Idiots Guide to Toltec Wisdom.  It describes the ancient Toltec path to personal freedom which equates to liberation from our domestication and programming to realize our full potential as human beings.  In one part of the book it talks about us changing our actions to realize different outcomes.  Doing so helps us break down our limiting beliefs about ourselves and the way our impression of the world is, once we do this then we can observe a bigger reality and with greater awareness come even more choices and possibilities for ourselves.  

One simple tactic to apply is to do a not-doing, in other words, break out of the routine no matter how trivial it may seem.  I was mulling over this the other day as walked into the office at work returning from the restroom.  As I entered the door, I turned left to walk to my desk as I always do since it is a slightly shorter walk. This time I caught myself and said "I'll just go right this time to start practising what I read".  It was only a 6 second walk either way really, I never imagined anything different could happen.  As I walked by a coworker's desk she smiled at me and I stopped to say hi.  The outcome of the brief chat was that I got a ride home from her that day instead of having to track down a taxi which is the most frustrating thing about working where I do without a car of my own.  

Turn left instead of right and allow abundance into your life.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Putting things in perspective

Today I read that a leading scientist said that there could be about 100bn earthlike planets in our galaxy alone.  That number of life supporting planets is more than 10 times the number of people on our one planet.  News like this really puts things in perspective.  That is like a cell in our body discovering that there are probably billions of other humans out there besides this one.   

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Sudden Meeting

3 days ago as I sat in the passenger seat of a car with my friend J at the wheel, I had my senses jarred in mid-conversation by a sudden collision followed by another jolting impact that shoved J’s vehicle into the one ahead.  Acting on impulse knowing neither J nor I had suffered significant injury, I dazedly opened the door and fumbled with my phone's camera function to capture the scene. Somehow instead of being lodged in the rear of our car, the taxi responsible was beside ours where it had collided with yet another vehicle.  I snapped a picture then checked on the driver of the taxi that had hit us.  He was groaning in pain and holding his head which had hit the steering wheel, but it didn't look serious.  

I guessed from the sequence of events that the driver had mistaken the accelerator for the brake, he hit our car once and then hit it a second time after it had rebounded back due to the sustained accelerative force.  The second impact had propelled our vehicle into the SUV ahead which in turn hit the taxi in front of it.  Finally, the taxi responsible had somehow careened off our rear and hit the car to the right of us.  

As we were sorting out the events with the traffic wardens that had arrived, the culprit left the scene; but I had his license plate number plainly evident in the photograph.  My neck was sore and starting to stiffen, already the traffic was backing up on Maarof Road.  I discerned that there were 5 cars involved, the SUV we had hit was driven by a middle aged lady named C and she had collided with a man named R. 

R and C started arguing as onlookers gathered, though it was plainly obvious neither one was at fault.  Fascinating that they would scream and shout at each other anyways.  Just then, my phone signaled a text message had arrived.  The message stated that my friend V had just given birth to a baby girl named Isabelle.  Mother and baby were doing well.  The time was listed as 118pm, a sudden chill descended over me because it was approximately when the crash had occurred.  My senses were flipped just as the baby made her entrance to our world.  

The police showed up 15 minutes later and I described the events then showed them the picture of the car that had hit and run.  In my wishful mind images briefly flashed of the policemen scrambling to their vehicles in response and shouting an APB on their radio announcing the license plate of the taxi, but instead the officer remained rooted in his spot with a sympathetic look and a commiserating, "yeah, that's too bad...".  

J’s car was not drivable and a tow truck was called in for it.  The trip to the police station took two hours to conclude filling a report.  Between bouts of waiting, we were directed from desk to desk between two buildings, interviewed by 3 different officers and finally stood in line at a window to drop off the filled out report slip.  During this time, R and I chatted occasionally.  I learned that he had been in 3 major collisions in his life, two of them the car was totaled.  In one the car had turned over and skidded a hundred meters, he had to kick out the window to escape from the wreck and in the other the car had wrapped itself around a lamppost. Yet for all the incidences, the worse injury he had suffered was a broken collarbone.  He was chagrined that he would lose a day's worth of business.  Fortunately for him, the taxi company would handle all repairs swiftly at no cost. 

After things were settled, we asked R if he could give us a ride back to my place and he obliged.  During the ride R mentioned that his sister was getting married that evening.  When we arrived at my apartment in MidValley I asked R what we owed him for the ride and he said, “what ever you want to give”.  J stopped my hand as I held out a $10 note, she handed him a $50 note and a $5 note.  “This 50 is for your sister for her wedding”, R was clearly taken aback by this unexpected generosity.  If there was any lingering resentment stemming from the accident that day, then J had selflessly erased it even though her own car had suffered the worst damage by far on the front and back.  When we left the taxi, we both were feeling actually quite good about her deed.

I learned today that J would likely have to lose her insurance discount though she was not at fault because most of the taxi drivers don't have insurance and even if the procedure were to go through an insurance claim it would take many weeks for the car to be repaired.  In review of the hastle and frustrations suffered, I have now upped my gratitude and appreciation for the lifestyle I had in North America.  I recall an incident when I had awoken one morning to find my car had the appearance of being vandalized during the night.  I drove to work and phoned in the incident to the police department.  Within 15 minutes, the officer had arrived at my workplace and met me to inspect the vehicle and take my statement.  He then gave me a slip of paper telling me this was the police report.  Now that is police service... instead of serving the police.  

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Giving away our personal power

Yesterday I played tennis in the evening and on the way home I stopped at a restaurant popular with young professionals for a beer and a salad.  Yes it's a weird food and beverage combination but my options were limited because I only had barely enough cash on me for a modest meal and a cab ride home later.  As I was seated at my table I noticed a rather attractive Asian girl sitting at her table in heated discussion with assumedly her boyfriend.   Her impassioned voice was loud enough to hear the content of the conversation without having to intentionally eavesdrop.  I discerned that they were disagreeing on the truth of the statement that one's figure can become toned purely on the merit of sustained weight resistance training without the accompaniment of a cardiovascular program.  I was struck by how incongruous their level of agitation was with the paltriness of the subject.  Each one expended so much energy into trying to convince the other of the truthfulness of their opinion, it never occurred to them that perhaps both could be right or maybe it really wasn't important if they disagreed and shared differing views on the subject.  Why are we so blinded by our need to have our beliefs be 'right'?  I read my book, finished my beer and salad and asked for the bill before the couple finally left.  I was impressed that for the entire duration there was not the slightest change in either one's stance on the subject that thoroughly dominated and upset their evening meal.  

Once Upon the Sea of Blissful Awareness

In my profession, I sit down too much I think.  It is the one aspect of this job that doesn't align with my nature.  Today I felt the familiar restlessness early in the day as I sat under the fluorescent lighting in the insipid cubicle.  Then I remembered my iPod and put it on.  Instantly my senses shifted gears and my awareness was transported away.  Music has the magical ability to take you elsewhere and revive you.  It can make a day otherwise dull into one of reclaiming oneself, restoration and realignment.   

One moment I was dancing on a rooftop overlooking the Aegean sea with the warmth of the setting sun on my face as I stepped in easy rhythm with an exquisite woman, the Flamenco band playing and the smell of the sea carried to me on the gentle wind.  The next moment I am immersed in the jostle of a packed stadium rattling and humming as the adored Irish rock band cry out that they still haven't found what they're looking for.  Quickly the urge to be elsewhere abates. 

More on music...

When I first moved to California, a lot seemed alien and I felt out of sorts with my environment because I was locked in by my limiting beliefs and assumptions of American culture.  For weeks I wondered if I could bear living here without sliding into loneliness and further isolation.  Then one day I picked up a CD at a music street vendor whose uplifting achingly beautiful music I had heard playing .  I went home to my rather spartan apartment and played the CD in my DVD player, the resident emptiness was replaced by the ambience of the music.  The shift was quite remarkable.  I knew then that I would be OK living the next few years in California, because right there was evidence that I could create my experience despite my circumstances. I was more in charge of my life and reality than I thought.   

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Playfulness of Water

Today I took a shower.  Actually I take showers everyday.  Well... almost everyday unless there's a good reason.  Sometimes there's just no showers around, like when I'm camping or backpacking.  

I think the proper expression should be worded as - 'today I experienced a shower' because I noticed today a sort of aliveness in the water.   The water was actually cascading in a light playful dance over me, and if I could hear beyond normal frequencies I'm sure I would have heard the laughter of water.  At this point in my current life I've taken over ten thousand showers but I swear I've never FELT the water this way.  I became aware of the playful nature of water.  I invite you to take a different shower today.  Really luxuriate in the flow of water, and bask in the moment.  Stretch your arms over your head and turn your face to welcome the cool spray of the water and let it flow into your heart.  It is marvelously healing.  Oh, and practically free. :)