Thursday, 29 December 2011

What have I done?

We are ending 2011 and approaching 2012... I was stuck with this question in my head : What have I done in 2011?

The first answer came to my mind was : Nothing..!!

I felt I had done nothing important, just strolling my days and nights like zombie in automatic gear mode doing mundane housework. Instead of losing weight, I gained few kilos... Instead of regular exercise, I found every imaginable excuses to skip it.

But when I thought that I had abandoned my blog for more than a week, suddenly I realized that in 2011 I started blogging. Heyyy... I did do something different this year..! A warm feeling radiated in my heart... Then I started to think about things I started in 2011.

1. I started my part time job.... It's something I had never done before. It's not as easy as I thought. Working at home means a lot of distractions from my kids, my maid, my contractor, my blackberry messanger chats, facetime chat, TV, food, etc etc... I had difficulties in managing my time... making me doing my work past midnight when the house was quiet and nothing interesting on TV.

2. I drove and got lost in Selayang and Templer roundabout. For the past 11 years living in KL, I was scared of driving to unfamiliar areas alone, afraid of being lost. Now I "enjoy" being lost and found my way out to the right roads.

3. I overcame my fear of butterflies. Yes, I was scared of butterflies and all other flying insects. Now I have no goosebump and tingle in my ear anymore whenever a butterfly comes near me. But I still can't shake the nervous feeling when I see cockroaches yet... I will have to work on it.

4. I adapt slowly to a new habit or environment, too slow in fact. Shamefully I admit that while I have been embracing my "new" religion of Islam, I have been very slow in implementing its teachings. Fasting has been easy and I never skip it every year but praying in Islamic way has been very difficult for me. I had always needed my husband to guide me everytime I pray. I just couldn't remember the Arabic sentences that I have to recite during prayer. It really frustated me and I was so ashamed of it that I avoided solat jemaah (group prayer) and any religious gathering. Don't be misunderstood, I talk constantly to Allah swt everyday but in English mixed with bahasa Indonesia. I believe that Allah swt is a supreme being who understands all languages. In August 2011.... I could do my sembahyang (praying in Islamic way) by myself. It surprised me on how I could do it. It just happened.. I don't know how but suddenly I could remember and recite the prayers in Arabic. Come to think again, this is actually my biggest achievement in 2011.

5. I had a full two-week holiday alone, without my kids and my husband. This is the first time in my 11+ years of marriage being away from them for a long period of time. It was very refreshing... Felt so free... I felt young again like when I was single and carefree.. The break made me appreciate my husband more, for taking care and entertain the kids while I was away.

6. I went to Japan with my mom and my sisters. It was our first "girls only" holiday. Despite being stranded in Maihama shelter caused by earthquake and tsunami (we were there when the tsunami hit), it was a very meaningful experience for us. It is one of the best vacations in my life, doing nothing but chit chatting with my mom and sisters for a whole week.

7. Last but not least, I made a lot of friends thru this blog... From the bottom of my heart, I really thank you for reading my blog. It really means a lot to me... To have total strangers reading my rantings and grumblings.. And to have old friends getting to know me better thru my writings.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year... May our 2012 be filled with great beautiful happy moments...


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Muslim celebrating Christmas

Christmas has always been my favourite holiday. The sounds of christmas carols, the pretty lights in the malls, the smell of fresh pine trees, the sinterklaas and swartepiets, the cookies, the christmas trees, the rains and cold weather, and a lot of other things that I can only experience in December.

When I converted to be a Muslim, I was confused... I still love and sing (off tune) Christmas songs, I still decorate Christmas tree at home in Bandung, I still cook my Christmas roast (but not turkey anymore..replaced by smaller chicken to fit into my small oven), I still go to malls just to hear the jingles and carols, and I still love everything about Christmas. Am I allowed to do this? Does it mean I am a less Muslim?

Some people may think that I shouldn't enjoy Christmas anymore...

But over the past 11 years I have chosen to keep enjoying it. Does it make me less Muslim? I don't thnk so. I have grown to understand my religion better and strongly believe that it is the right one for me.

When I looked back, I realized that my Buddhist mom, my atheist father and my Catholic sister had been having Maulud Nabi celebration every year since 20 years ago. They usually had an imam or uztads from nearby mosque in the house to do some prayers together with my parents's employees for Maulud Nabi celebration. My parents sacrifice lamb or cow almost every Aidil Adha at the mosque behind our house. They had done it for more than 20 years yet it didn't make them a Muslim or less of a Budhhist or a Catholic.

They did it to respect and appreciate the muslim employees who work for them, at the same time also enjoying the togetherness, the food, and the festivities.

A lot of people may not understand this but i trully believe that understanding and participating in other religious celebration has actually strengthened my belief in Islam. My husband has been my dictionary, my historian, and my engineer. I used to hate history class during my school days thus very ignorant on it... My husband came in handy explaining the history of religions, ready with wikipedia for referrence. By understanding the reasons and the origins of religious celebrations, I become a better Muslim. My views and thoughts on religions become clearer.

So when my girls felt guilty for wanting to have a Christmas tree at home, I told them that we would have it next year when our new house is ready. In fact, we plan on celebrating every major holiday next year. We will decorate our house for Chinese New Year, paint some eggs on Easter, put on some pelita during Ramadhan, (try) make a mini kolam on Deepavali and put up a christmas tree in December.

Living in Malaysia has enabled us to live a very rich life by experiencing massive cultural diversity.... Why waste it?

Imagine all the food we get to eat.... Yee Sang during Chinese New Year, chocolate in Easter, lemang in Ramadhan, chicken varuval in Deepavali and turkey for Christmas.

Just the food alone is a good enough excuse to celebrate every holiday....

Have a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday....

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Let's live like a Bhutan

I've been wanting to write about this since a few months ago but distracted by other things.

I read this article at The Star newspaper about The King of Bhutan who measures the country's wealth NOT by GDP but by GNH which stands for Gross National Happiness. Initially I laughed it out and thought how ridiculous it was. But after a long discussion with my husband, i agreed with him that every country should implement this GNH, or at least every family should think about this.

GDP is measured by material wealth, by how much money an average citizen earns. But I found out again and again, material things do not guarantee happiness. In fact lots of wealthy people need to spend their monies on psychiatrists, doctors, plastic surgeons, papparazzi, "fake friends", car dealers, and real estate agents to make them happy. After they have spent the money, a lot of them are still not happy. So again, while material things are important to make us feel safe and comfortable, they don't guarantee happiness.

In Bhutan, the government is doing all it can to make its people happy. They spend the government's fund on researches for happiness. They spend government money on things that make its people happy. Isn't it what every citizen in the world wants? It's really money well spent. Our government spends millions of ringgit in building palaces and under-utilized stadiums. Did they do it to make the people happy? US government spends billions of dollars for wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world... Do they do it to make the Americans feel happy?

I am trying to follow the way Oxford-educated King Jigme Khesar Namgyal spend his money. I will spend my money and time only on what makes my family, my friends and I happy.

What can make me happy is different with what can make you, my friends and other people happy. So first, find out what can make us happy... Beware : amusement and happiness are two different things that can be mistaken for each other.

I am at my happiest when surrounded by people I love, enjoying delicious food and have great conversations. I don't care about fancy jeweleries, branded clothes, big cars, or other things... That's why I don't spend a lot of money on cars, clothes or fancy handbags coz they don't make me happy.

I spend most of my money on food : spicy food, street food, fancy food, exotic food, anything that has "food" on it except dog food and cat food. I just spend on the basic carnal need of human being.

Siiiggghhh...... Finally I can understand why I can't have the body, the hair and the skin of Adriana Lima.