Friday, January 21, 2011

From Comfort to Discomfort Zone

I had been on familiar ground for a very long time.  For many years I always felt quite comfortable with my working environment.  It was my home ground and I felt very much protected and secure in carrying out my daily activities.  The work scope and the challenges varied and changed over time, but I always felt I could manage it. And I did.  And eventually I ended up feeling very comfortable, too comfortable it scared me.  I was afraid I would become complacent, and I felt I needed a new challenge to stimulate my appetite for success.

Well, I got just what I asked for....... and more.  I’m now officially a full time student.  It’s been more than 15 years since I completed my degree and going back to learning environment requires some significant adjustment on my part.  And the subject of International Relations is very alien to me; realism, pluralism, constructivist, differences between neutral and non-alignment, state and actors, contemporary strategies....oh my.  Migration from engineering/logistics to head has been spinning just from the thought of it.  The lecturers are mostly prominent figures in IR world.  I just recently discovered that one of them was cited numerous times in a few old books from my undergraduate studies.  I was mesmerised just being in their presence.  And how about my classmates, everybody but one is at least a few years older than me.  One of them even has two grandchildren and has just recently held a wedding reception for his youngest daughter.  Some are just a few years away from retirement.....and I’m still about 15 years till!!!  I didn’t feel there was any room for me to share about the headache of trying to enrol my kids in Year 1 of primary school.  These guys are well beyond that already.  How about their working experience or academic qualification then?  Most have commanded big organisations, be it a battalion or a ship or an aircraft squadron, and have regular interactions with the top brass of their respective services.  Some already have masters in other fields and one I know has been pursuing his Phd which he has to put on hold until the end of this programme.  These are some bad-ass individuals, some in the true sense of the word due to the nature of their job in dealing with the unthinkable.

I was intimidated to say the least.  I had trouble breathing......literally!!!  I felt very small in the midst of this whole new environment.  I was inferior, in every aspect it seemed....The whole week had me struggling to comprehend the predicament I got myself into.  It felt impossible to come out on top.  I never felt such anxiety before.  One whole week of feeling like this and I knew I could not let this go on.  What would you do??  What would you do when faced with such obstacles.....???

It’s almost the end of the second week, and I can confess that I’m feeling much better now.  I am okay.  I feel confident, not of the outcome as it is ultimately in the hand of God, but of my perseverance and will to complete this.  A complete turn-around from last week.  Why and How?  The demons of fright, anxiety and intimidation are gone.  I got rid of them.  I know there are going to be some major obstacles coming my way.  I know I may not have the upper hand in many situations.  I am at a disadvantage in many ways.  I accept. 

But then, I do have some of my own strengths, some of which I feel will propel me to comprehend the challenges ahead.  I have accomplished some incredible feats in my life, and I wouldn’t have done so if not for my own strong points.  I have come to accept the card I got dealt with.  I asked for it in the first place.  This is God’s plan for me.  I just have to give my best and leave the rest to Him.  And slowly I feel much more peaceful.  I begin to see situations where I actually have the upper hand, I begin to see the positive in even the most dreadful prospect, and I start to see that there is always something to be learned in every challenge.  I begin to see that it’s all about accepting, maybe ‘redha’ is more suitable word to describe this.  I am astonished at the speed of the transition and how good I feel now.  It’s not false hope I’m sure.  I know I still have mountains to climb.  But I have accepted that this is the situation I’m in, this is what I asked for, it’s going to be hard, I’m going to struggle.  I just have to try my best, exploit my strengths and just redha that whatever happens is not because of my lack of trying.  Wasn't this what I’d been saying to myself before every time I encountered hardship in life?  Yes indeed.  It’s just that when the bar is raised higher, sometimes self-induced doubt creeps in without my realising it.  Alhamdulillah I’m back on track and even more motivated and determined to give it my very best.  I know some of my colleagues are facing their own demons right now.  I hope they will eventually come to term and be able find the way to cope with the dreadful feelings.

I am glad I got this out of my chest.  I praise God for making me realise quickly what I should have already known and accepted from the very beginning.  This is what I will say to sum up this posting; just accept (redha with) your fate no matter how difficult and unfair it may seem, give your best to deal with it, ask for God’s intervention to grant the outcome you hope for...........and leave the rest to Him.  InsyaAllah that’s what I intend to do and I hope He will give me strength and courage throughout.  Amin.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Three Faces Of My Daughters

These are the 3 faces of my daughters throughout the day for 5 days in a week. They begin their day bright and early to go to Sekolah Agama, then they have a short break before getting ready for their Primary School. After school, they have about one hour for shower and dinner and off they go for Mengaji Quran. Mengaji finishes at about 8.30pm, and they only have tiny little time then to watch TV, drink their milk formula and finally they go to bed at about 10pm (no need to pester them, physically they know they have to go to sleep). A little less hectic on Tuesday and Friday nights as they have no mengaji session.

Sekolah Agama Year 1

Primary School Year 1

Going for Mengaji Quran

My initial thought was..... that was so darn hectic. But children being children, they adapted fairly quickly and by the fourth day of school, they even reminded us not to come over during recess. I never had any doubt that my kids could hack it with this new routine. I knew it would be much easier for them to settle in, having the luxury of each other’s company in going through the routines. With most of the administrative matters at both schools are pretty much over and done with, they can now concentrate on their studies.

I did not doubt my girls’ ability to cope and they have proven their mettle so far; having fun at school, making new friends, and one of them even got a nice treat from her teacher for producing an exemplary work in class. What worries me is that it seems there’s very little time for them to play during the week. Definitely not after primary school as they arrive at home less than half an hour before sunset. In between schools is the longest free time, and even that’s not exactly free for them to play. I’m not even counting in the eventual homework they have to juggle within the little ‘free’ time they have. Anyway, all is not loss. The new KSSR (Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah) has allocated two periods for Physical Education which is on Monday and Tuesday….so they get to play during these allocated times. I then realise that my kids, as well as the other kids, have the ability to somehow find ‘quality time’ to play despite their chaotic schedules. Children’s instinct!!!! Before school starts, during recess, even in class like comparing the content of their pencil cases, sharing their ‘bekal’ (what they eat during recess) and every little opportunity they can find time for it. That’s really children being children and really knowing what they want, and what their priority is...... to play.

No matter what, these kids know how to find time to play

So I am not going to worry too much. I know they will still find time to play no matter what. However, I still want to try to slot in fun playing time during weekend for them. It’s not all about how many A's they get, it’s not all about how well they do in exams, it’s not all about competing with other students. Those are important things for them, but having quality time to play is equally important as they have demonstrated.

I'm so proud of my angels

An equally proud Mama

Playtime even for a few minutes before going for Mengaji Quran

By the way, as I waited at the waiting area to fetch my kids after school yesterday, I saw a group of school children playing soccer using disposed Solivite bottle.......they had lots of fun. Yup, that’s what being children all let them play.

Don't worry too much, we'll be fine

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011- My perspective

I can’t think of a year that promises to have so many things going on for me, all at the same time. 2011 is just barely into its first day and I am already bracing myself for all the things this year has in store for me. I am very excited while at the same time feeling a little apprehensive with what lies ahead.

These are some of the new phases I’m going to experience in 2011:

~ My children, after spending 3 years in kindergarten, will be starting school in Year 1 both in primary school and Sekolah Agama this Monday. This alone brought in a whole set of new adjustments to my life. My twins are all excited and really looking forward to going to a new school. They adapt to changes so easily compared to us adults.....sigh.

My kids on their Orientation Day

~ My wife has just finished with her studies while I’m starting mine in a week. Being a full time student again after more than 15 years is definitely a drastic change in my routine.

~ Moving house, but not really moving.....and having to stay separately from the family for a year. It’s like living from a suitcase, but in my case, it’s like living from two suitcases, the rented apartment I’m gonna be living in and spending the weekends with the family at a place, while very nice, but we can’t really call it our home.

~ Relinquishing my post as the rugby chairman/coach for Navy Orca. Breaking the news to my players was one of the hardest things I had to do. And not having to worry about them like I do my children or family members will hit me hard in the few months to come. I’m going to miss them, miss being at the field, basically being completely detached from something that has been a big part of my life for the past 4 years is going to be difficult.
The newly designed team logo which I created to rejuvenate the team when I took over 4 years ago

The tense pre-game scene and the adrenaline rush are all part of my rugby memories now

~ Moving from using wifi from a fixed line broadband at home to using wireless broadband. It’s been too convenient with Streamyx but I now hope the wireless access will be good enough and I will be able to capitalise from its mobility.

Speed...speed....have you got enough speed?  I'll soon find out

~ Living in a cosmopolitan city as opposed to enjoying the laid back small town atmosphere. Experiencing the chaotic shopping scene on Christmas day was a rude awakening to what lies ahead. Stuck in a jam enroute to Ikea, stuck again in the long queue at the highway exit, wandering aimlessly in the vast parking zones but not finding a spot easily, stuck again in a long lunch queue, feeling loss in the sea of people who seemed to be unaffected by the frenzy, while I was feeling all claustrophobic. And again last night, trying to enjoy new year with family and relatives......same things again: traffic jam, sea of people and long queues.....and yes, inflated prices......I’ll have to get use to all of these now. Not all bad though, more choices for food and more choices for everything from entertainment to household needs. The pro and cons I guess.......

This is where I'll be for the next 1 year at least

So 2011, welcome! Hope it brings not only changes but also all the prosperity and success to make this world a better place.  InsyaAllah.