Category Archives: blog

Central Line

ImageI found this case thing that looks like a book at a local store in Bedford.  All the stations listed here represent all tube stops in Zone 1 on the Central Line in London.

As soon as I saw it, I stopped in my tracks and and all these memories of taking the central line came flooding back.
I wanted to turn around to the family behind me and tell them why I was so excited, but…
I lived in Queensway (not cool that it says “Queens Way” on it) for over a year.  This tube stop was really really under underground.  You had to take the lifts or walk up/down 123 steps on this narrow spiral stairway before getting to the platform.  There were no elevators.  I rarely had the patience to wait for the lifts amongst the throes of tourists and would run down the stairs, hoping I wouldn’t trip and tumble down.
Central line was also probably the most reliable line.  Trains came every 1-2 mins.  It was also one of the most stifling lines in the summer.  No air conditioning.  You got used to the smell that results from humidity, poor ventilation and a LOT of bodies crammed into a carriage.  Ooh sweet memories.
I loved “commuting”.  Always had my headphones in and people watched.  During peak office travel hours, there were a lot of finely dressed people on their way to Bank/Liverpool street stations.  During non business hours, there’d be a ton of tourists from all over the world speaking their own languages animatedly.
I took it to work for about a year (when our offices were by St Paul’s) and almost every weekend to get to west end or the east part of London.  In some ways it really represents/symbolises this “step” to most escapades I had in London.
I miss London, not in the sense that I want to go back and live forever, but in the sense that it was my home for 3 years and I have many fond memories.

My soundtrack

My SoundtrackI’ve been trying to write a blog post on music for years.  If you had access to my WordPress account, you’d see 10 drafts.  But I have yet been able to articulate and summarize my thoughts without going into too much detail.  So here’s a small part of that attempt to articulate..

As you go through various stages in life, and assuming you listen to music, you find that inevitably a soundtrack starts forming which represents a part of your life.  How often does an old song play where it brings you right back to a certain moment in life? You then start having flashbacks of the incredible (or painful) moments?

That’s what I love about music.  I love that it has the ability to engulf us in its melodies, rhymes and beats.  I love that it has multiple layers that can be dissected, explored and interpreted in various ways.  I LOVE that it can be used to turn a situation around, like when you need a good start at work, or when we need to dance, be carefree and insanely silly.

I love that music is universal, that we all have our own preferences, and that it’s possible to find a type of genre that appeals to us in various situations.

Having been in New Hampshire for four months and counting, the soundtrack of my time here is forming….

A New chapter in New Hampshire

The Holstee Manifesto

I moved to New Hampshire from London 3 months ago.  Long story short, after the dust settled with relocating over, I had a really hard time adjusting to the pace here.  I couldn’t step outside, walk the streets of a city, watch people from all walks of life, eat pretty much any cuisine I wanted.

It was tough. I saw myself slipping into a dark hole, and before tipping over the edge, decided I was simply being such a city snob, snapped out of it, and did a couple of things.

Sometimes I’m thankful there’s such a thing as “years”.  It’s a great excuse to go, “alright, this is a new year, let me do something different, and approach life from a different angle.”

And so I did.

I’m beginning to really appreciate New Hampshire.  It’s a state with just over 1.3 million people.  I live in this tiny town known as Bedford, which has a population of about 21,000.  Yes, twenty one thousand.  London? 8 million. 🙂

I find myself REALLY treasuring the simplicity of life here.  When you live in a massive city, you are exposed to extremes: personalities, attitudes, actions and consequences.  You meet all sorts of people – which is great – but extreme deviant social behaviour starts becoming “normal”.  Moving to a small town from a large city also encourages a different type of creativity.  You can no longer step outside, and get smacked in the face with 100 things to do within a 1 mile radius.

This past week has been great, in terms of keeping busy and having numerous conversations outside of work with colleagues who grew up here.  The conversations have been enlightening, interesting and different, hence spurring this post.

With that being said, I still love a city, and am heading to NYC next weekend to spend some time with my dearest friends.  But my point here, is that, wherever you go, you can always find something to do, learn, explore and enhance your personal wellbeing.

About that poster on the top right, it was put together by the folks over at Holstee and is such a great reminder of how I want to live each day.  As they put it, it’s a “call to action to live a life full of intention, creativity, passion and community”.  Do check out their video below:

Opening Ceremony London 2012

It was a memorable Friday evening, one I’ll never forget.  I absolutely love sporting environments.  I feel rather fortunate to happen to be living & working in London when this great city hosts the mother of all sporting events, the Olympics.

On the way to the pub in Farringdon around 7pm, we watched in awe as a policeman stopped traffic at a crossroad.  Seconds later, about 10 policemen guided 4 buses full of athletes from Argentina through the traffic.  I guess they were trying to get to the stadium in time for the opening ceremony!  We waved at them in excitement, and they waved back at us with big smiles on their faces.  Goosebumps!

We booked out a rather large table for over 20 of us, and had a nice big screen in front of us.

I wish I could list down every moment during the ceremony my heart skipped a beat, and the hair on my arms stood up,  but here’s a short summary:

Danny Boyle’s direction.  The volunteers.  Queen Elizabeth – I think the pub cheered the loudest during the entire event as soon as she turned around to Daniel Craig.  When God Save the Queen was sung – the entire pub stood up and sang at the top of their lungs.  Singing at the top of our lungs during the pop culture scene. Mr Bean!!!!  I watched this guy a ton during my childhood in Malaysia. A colleague and I were outside taking in some fresh air, and we literally ran in as soon as we saw his face on TV.  Mary Poppins – awww.  GOSH –  the children.

Let me spend a moment on the parade of 204 nations.  I was with a group of people from all over the world, Mauritius, Norway, Canada, USA, Ireland.  We nudged each other in excitement as our countries came out, cheered crazily for each other.  Malaysia came out, I’d never felt prouder in my life,  oh it was such a warm and fuzzy hours.  We watched in anticipation for Mariah, a colleague of ours who was scheduled to walk out holding the Jamaica sign NEXT TO Usain Bolt.  When she came we went all crazy and shouted at the cameraman whenever he zoomed in on Usain Bolt.  Oh well, can’t blame him.

It’s Saturday afternoon right now, and I’m off for a run around Hyde Park, just in time to watch the men’s 250km cycling race come to a finish.

Finding inspiration

Getting back into a fitness routine is tough. The trick (at least for me) is finding a motivation before stepping out that door.

And when you’re running that mile, to let your mind wander to beautiful places, anything from..

..the past:  childhood memories, that night you laughed so much, the day you fell in love

..the present: kids playing catch, the playful dog trying to chase the squirrel

..the future: your dreams, that holiday in 2 months, the potential of where your life is heading

Yesterday, my motivation was the women’s French open final & Michael Lazerow’s very personal and touching video he made about fear and taking risks right after he sold Buddy Media to Salesforce. It was a rare sunny day in London. So while running around Hyde Park, I let the sun and scenes around the park take over. If only every day were this easy..

What is encouraging is that there are thousands of inspiration moments and places your mind can wander to.

I hope Lazerow’s video below inspires you as much as it inspired me.

Late twenties?

Turned 27 today. Unbelievable. Late twenties? Oh dear.

Simply put, it was honestly a heart warming day (although it made me realise how nomadic life is). I was working for the most part, but the messages that poured through Facebook, our corporate IM, email, text was touching. Thank you all.

Mom, dad, our video chats always mean a lot. I’m sorry for not being in touch more often as a daughter really should.

Mia, Sara, Siobhan, Steffi, Karynn, Kaysee, Neesha, Thi, we “grew up” at various stages together but are now all over the world, and whenever we meet, nothing changes. Thank you for the love through various channels.

Childhood, high school, college friends, thank you.

Colleagues, the amount of IMs that came in today was really touching, especially those of you who thought “Hmm, let’s not bug her about work today, but we’ll leave it at Happy Birthday.”

Siobhan, Victoria, Kirstine, Courtney & Helena, thanks for the lovely dinner.

And Nico, Nico, Nico, the video below is self explanatory. Not only was there a recording, but a voicemail, and live singing. Ahh.

Sundays and Family

Love Sundays. This is my version of a “family Sunday” with mom and dad who are 7,000 miles away.

Skype rings away…

Mom: I-Liiiii (my Chinese name), are you watching the Australian Open?!?

“Mmm morning mom *lazy stretch*”

Dad (shouting in the background): “Nadal is leading! Last set already!”

Mom: Just woke up ah?

“yess…how are you?”

Dad (in the background): Ruth, how do I update my iPhone apps? (I made the mistake of using my iTunes account to download apps onto Dad’s iPhone)

Dad, it’s about time you used the account I set up for you.

Mom: “I-Li, what are the three things that will make me very happy?”

Haha yes mom, I know, I know.

Dad: “are you taking your vitamins and exercising regularly?”

Mom: Oh Aus open postponed due to rain!! Oh I-Li I’m so excited about our trip to Guilin, doing so much research..want to come?

I would love to, but it’s a bit hard to plan…

Mom: aiya ok la, we plan next family trip in June…

Love my parents, and the Sunday joys they bring every week. 🙂

Reflections and New Adventures

Christmas & New Years were spent in Malaysia, it’s been about 5 years since I went home over the busiest travel season of the year. It was the most productive yet unproductive trip. A little homesick now that I’m back in London.

So, let’s reflect on 2011, and talk about new goals for 2012.

2011

Fav past time in the summer, lying
horizontally in Hyde Park after a run,
reflecting & watching the skies

All I wanted to do was travel travel travel. Then, my goal for 2011 was to travel to 5 new cities/towns, two of which had to be in countries I’d never been to.  Mission accomplished through a mixture of work travels and holiday –  Berlin, Oslo, Almaty, Helsinki, Sicily. Finland, Kazakhstan and Norway were countries I’d never been to. I was also fortunate to be able to go back to Las Vegas, Amsterdam, Brussels, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. 

Looking back, 2011 was also a monumental year work wise, something that naturally unfolded, but has impacted me in a way I’m so grateful for. By the end of 2011, I realised that I had finally figured out what drives me, what my passion was. Around March 2011, I was in a position where I could either choose to focus on client accounts, or move towards a more tech focused role.  I picked the latter intuitively and embarked on a new journey. Long story short, I LOVE what I currently do. For the last 6 months of 2011, I was working 10-12 hour weekdays and not once did I hate it. In fact, I wanted the day to go on and on, and wanted to learn more and jump into the deep end. It is a really good place to be, and I wish it on every person in the world – that you happen to do what you love and are passionate about for work, and come through the doors with a bounce & determination in your step every single day.
I’d also decided to focus on my health in 2011. Went back to running & tennis, ate healthier than I’d ever done in the past 6 years since I stopped competitive sports.
Also went to a bunch of gigs, sporting events, explored more of London, discovered new British bands.

Looking back, I’m not sure how I managed to keep sane.

2012
Goals:
1. Spend a few weeks in NYC and Philly, visit some of my closest friends.
2. Visit China in late 2012, mom and I were talking about going to Shanghai and a bunch of villages in late 2012. I’m so excited already it’s bound to happen.
3. The stereotypical British holiday – on an island somewhere in Europe. I would love to do Croatia.
4. Get a CIW certificate. I’ve been meaning to take a bunch of courses to get a solid foundation in this new tech role and signed up for a 150 hour course in late Dec. 
5. Decide on a city I’d like to reside permanently. I’ve been thinking long and hard about London, where I’ve lived for the past three years. Ss this the place I want to live? I’m not sure, and I’m not certain London is for me. Having aged another year, I think it’s time to think about it seriously and aim to make a decision by the end of 2012.
6. Be a better person. 
I’m excited for 2012…

Another adventure

Two weeks ago, I was approached and asked to be “involved” in a new and exciting initiative. I jumped at it. I like taking on new challenges, being involved in new things. Did I enquire about my level of involvement at that time? No. I simply said “Hell yes”.

A week later, I start realising how “involved” I was going to be. So lately, time is precious. Really precious. Deep breath, I tell myself, it’s okay, I can manage. It’s like going back to school, learning new tools, trying to master it so I can teach it proficiently to the new team. Did I get stuck? Oh yes, at times hours were spent trying to figure out little, minute things. Ok great, got past that, moving on..

Today, I dug around further, trying to understand the pieces surrounding the context of this new initiative so I could start moving on to other related tasks. I start realising that what I know so far, is a tiny sand grain in a little section of a beach that goes on for miles and miles.

You know that feeling you get when something actually starts to sink in? Like pins and needles creeping up on you, from head to toe, in what seems like hours?

You know when you feel like you know it all, but realisation sets in that you’ve barely scratched the surface?

What do you do at this point?

You take it one step at a time, focusing on the present, while knowing there’s a bigger purpose in all of this. You also accept that mistakes are okay; they are the best way of learning and getting from Point A to Point Z (while trying to minimise the # of mistakes along the way of course). You put your heart and soul into it, and desire any tangible outcome to be a reflection of your strengths. You steer clear of the naysayers and cling on to the ones that inspire you.

At the end of all this, when you feel you’ve accomplished what you had set out to do, you take a deep breath…smile, reflect, throw in a vacation by the beach …. and are ready to do it all over again.

Perspective

Life for the past few months has been all about work. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it’s a combination of it being a personal choice, being passionate about what I do and working with people who inspire me and are great fun to work with.


Things have really picked up at work. Yes working long hours is one thing, but of late, it’s been meetings, conference calls one after another, new projects, with not a spare moment to take a deep breath and think anything through thoroughly. 


Amongst all this, I noticed that up till a few weeks ago, I had been approaching work in a way too personal way. I mean that when things don’t go perfectly, it really affects me and I take it all to heart even though these are business related things. There were two weeks of consistent sleepless nights because my head kept turning, and neither did I try to stop it. I’d crash on the weekends. One day recently, I was in the office up till 10pm dealing with a few things. I called a dear friend (who might as well be my life coach) right after and broke down. The gist was that I was simply overwhelmed with emotion. One of my main roles includes supporting clients and sales folks in the company. So I tend to hear all the great stuff but also hear the other end of the stick. At that point it feel like the weight of a thousand rocks on my shoulders.

I explained this to her, and yes she sympathised with me, but more importantly, she gave me a reality check. Why was I taking everything to heart? At the end of the day, this is work. Such a simple statement, yet, it really hit me. I thought, “Yes she’s right, I’m being utterly ridiculous about this”. I won’t stop caring, and will always be solution orientated, but I needed to change certain things about the way I approached it.

It’s all about perspective isn’t it, and sometimes we need to hear this from others to bring us back down to earth. I’ve made some changes since, and it’s been all for the better.

A few weekends ago I was sitting down with a friend reflecting on life. We narrowed down to a specific topic. She was telling me about how four years ago. she had all these worries in life which affected her mentally and physically. Soon after, she received some personal news, one that was earth-shattering. Reflecting back on it now, she sees how her earlier worries were insignificant to the news she received soon after and in the bigger picture of things, she might have seen and dealt with her earlier worries differently. 


I’ve always had this tiny fear in the back of my mind, that someday, something earth shattering will happen to me, one so significant that nothing else will matter. I will go completely numb and physical and emotional pain will have no impact on me. Once the numbness subsides, I would look back on life, and question certain choices.


At the end of the day, these earth shattering moments are unpredictable, and there’s no point harping on the whats ifs and what might happen. It’s all about living in the present, making the best of it, and living life with no regrets.