24.

 

With every passing year, birthdays no longer appeal to me like how they used to.

 

I used to look forward to balloons, cakes, presents, and dinner parties with a large group of friends. I used to expect my Facebook wall to be flooded with birthday wishes that takes days to say my thank yous to. Phone calls, Skype calls, personal messages would keep me occupied from when the clock strikes midnight up till the wee hours of the morning.

 

Perhaps it is finally coming to realise that there is no need for the fancy birthday celebration. Perhaps it is part of growing up (and older… sigh).

 

Turning another year older this year, it has come to a point that I reevaluate the people who I surround myself with in the last three years and it boils down to this:

 

Nobody is too busy; that is just an excuse and it really is a matter of priorities.

 

To be honest, I acknowledge and accept the fact that people grow apart and outgrow each other. It took a while, but I get it now. Two people who used to be able talk about everything and anything but could no longer do the same. Two people who used to be able to spend time together – even in silence – but the silence is now too much to take. There may not be a conflict or squabble; it just… happened.

 

To those that took the effort to send birthday text messages, video and messages on my social media pages, and even Instagram posts – thank you, I truly appreciate them and they made me really happy. 🙂

 

To those who went the extra mile by making time to accompany me and even buying me a meal – you earned a special spot in my heart. Thank you for reminding me to appreciate the kindness that is given, the quality of people that I should surround myself with. ❤

 

I'd say that it is a birthday weekend well spent with people that I love, delicious meals, and 14 slices of cake.

 

(Seriously, that's more cake than I could ever imagine myself eating. Gosh.)

 
 

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The night before my birthday is somewhat akin to New Year’s Eve. It is a night I spend recapping the year and thinking about what I want for myself in the coming year.

 

Turning 24, my goals for this year does not differ much from last year.

 

This year is another year on the journey of self-discovery, mainly from the fitness aspect. I have signed up for three half marathons and one 10KM run so far, so that keeps me grounded to do my weekly runs. Hopefully it gives me enough motivation to get back to train for the Spartan races and to try a CrossFit gym.

 

I am still on my journey to being a happier person with a lighter heart. I am still learning to embrace my failures and to look at them as lessons to success. I’d say that I have been very much open and accepting that my bad days are not all that bad; there is so much of good that I get out of them. Arguably, I am happier than I have ever been in the last three years and I tell you the feeling is so wonderful. It is like the indescribable fulfillment that I have from serving in the MYCorps mission, except that the fulfillment is for myself.

  
 
 

Here’s to 24.
(That glass of Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask though – good stuff!)

 

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Stay afloat, don’t drown.

 

It has been a busy start to the first month of 2017.
I have been trying to sort out my priorities,
mainly job hunting.
For the past 5 weeks, the uncertainties don’t get any lesser.
Every application I make is a test of luck.
Every step I take is a leap of faith.

 

The peer pressure is setting in.
I tend to be lost in conversations with friends
because when everyone talks about their career,
it hits me:
I have no colleagues to praise / rant about.
I have no work stress to complain about.
I have no job to talk about.
It is difficult and frustrating
when I feel like I have so much to offer,
yet to only come back struggling with reality.

 

I’d say that it is just a phase,
and I hope that I am right.

 

Goodbye, 2016; Hello, 2017.

 

Another year has passed.
It is time for a reflection of the year.

 

It feels like it was just yesterday when I was reviewing my last post of 2015 to wrap up the year.

 

2016 whizzed past with a lot of contemplations and doubts about my capabilities to retake the CLP exams for the second time, and whether a job in the legal profession is something that I wanted as a career. I know I wanted something bigger, something different in 2016. I wanted to take risks, I wanted to see how far I could go if I was a little braver. A lot of personal obligations stopped me from getting a job – which in turn stopped me in pursuing interests of my own. But like any other inspiring story that we hear about, I had a breakthrough in the final quarter of the year. I was brave enough to take a leap of faith to make my application to join MYCorps and joining the programme is arguably the best decision that my indecisive of self has made. It is a decision that I have zero regrets with. In return, I got the experience of a lifetime and met lifelong friends. (I promise, separate posts about MYCorps!)

 

Simply to say, 2016 was a lot about taking risks and being braver.
2016 was about regaining trust and reevaluating friendships.
2016 was about building stronger relationships.
2016 was about owning up to my words and living up to my promises.
2016 was about conquering unspoken fears within myself.
2016 was about being humble to learn life lessons from the underprivileged.
2016 was about being better: for myself, for people around me, for the society.

 

What a year it has been.
Damn it, 2016 – you have overdone yourself.

 
 

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2016, thank you for yet another great year of self-discovery and a life-changing experience to wrap up the year.

 

2017, I am ready for another year of making mistakes, learning and growing. I am ready for a year of adventures and crazy risks.

 

Happy New Year, all. 🙂

 

All the possibilities… 

 

We always have a choice.
A choice of words,
a choice of actions,
a choice of thoughts;
it is up to us.

 

We have the liberty to say what we want, but often in time we limit ourselves and stop in the tracks before the regret sets in.

 

I could tell you a million things, but I chose to tell you none.

 

I could give in and tell you the truth, but I chose to turn away from you.

 

I could leave when it is the easy way out, but I chose to stay when it is the toughest to do.

 

I want nothing more than to be honest with you, but the choice to maintain the status quo seems to be the wisest.

 
 

… but not for me.

 

FUNdraising 4 Cambodia

 

In case you missed out my previous posts, I am currently undergoing training for the upcoming MYCorps, Cambodia: Mission 2 programme this October along with 49 other MYCorps volunteers (MCVs). This programme is an initiative under the Ministry of Youth and Sports, supported by the International Youth Centre and EPIC Homes. The NGOs that are partnering in this project are RainWater Cambodia (RWC) and the Cambodian Education and Development Fund (CEDF).

 

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The Pilot Mission and the First Mission focused on building water catchments and latrines in several villages in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, as well as a nursery and playground. This is so as to tackle the ongoing issue of clean water, leading to issues on hygiene and sanitation. In this upcoming mission, the projects aim to further improve these issues as well as the lack of proper schooling facilities in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The first project will be based in four schools in Phnom Penh, where waste incinerators along with hand washing stations will be built and the existing latrines will be rehabilitated. For the second project, a preschool will be built in a village in Siem Reap.

 

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In order to make the projects work, the MCVs are aiming to raise approximately RM120,000.00 which goes to covering the costs of the projects. The costs mainly covers the construction materials needed for the mission, and any extras will go to furnishing the preschool with furnitures and a playground.

 

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[Photo credits to the MYCorps officials.]

 

 

More importantly, this is something that I vouched for when I found out about the programme.

 

On a personal aspect, it is an escape from emotional mess and problems.
It is a perfectly-timed opportunity to find a bigger sense of purpose in life and to figure out what I want to achieve.
It is a challenge for myself to step out of my comfort zone and to push myself beyond my limits, to put myself out there.
Nevertheless, it is also a temporary break from reality and adulthood.

 

For the bigger part of the reason, I have always wanted to do more volunteering work. Like everyone else, I want to make a difference. I want to give back to the community ever since my volunteering experience from teaching underprivileged children during my college days. Being blessed with the privilege of education, family and a home to grow up in, it is the least I could do to improve the lives of those who are less fortunate; it is our responsibility to the society.

 

I think volunteering gives a different perspective about gratitude. We are well aware that we should practice gratitude everyday; but how many of us say our thank yous? How often do we appreciate the good things that happen to us? How often do we reflect on our actions and the consequences that follow? More often than not, we do not realise how fortunate we are, how blessed we are to be at whatever point in our lives right now. It may not be the best – at least not in our perspectives – but we are so focused on our idealistic perceptions that we forget that there are people who are facing problems with basic necessities.

 

This mission is important to me because it is my belief that everyone should have access to  our basic necessities. Since the genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge that took away the lives of approximately 1.5 million Cambodians, it has set back the nation development’s back decades. Not only that, health and sanitation issues still remain the nation’s biggest challenge. Most parts of the country lack water and electricity, and the majority of the rural areas do not have plumbing. For the fact that 70% of Cambodians live in rural areas with over 50% of its population not having access to safe drinking water, something has to be done about it. A three-day jungle induction camping experience with limited access to clean water was quite a horrid for us, let alone for those people who have to live with it for a lifetime. A lot of improvement on water sources and sanitation has been done over the years in Cambodia by the government and NGOs, but that is not enough to remedy the problem faced by the nation. As long as the issues on sanitation is not improved, it will continue to curb the nation’s development in areas such as the economy, education, and health access to progress forward as a developed nation.

 

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Hence, the MCVs and I are raising funds to build the incinerators, hand washing stations, and a preschool. We have been working on various of activities to raise funds, such as the sale of pre-loved items, roses and snacks as well as busking. Our crowdfunding site has just been launched to reach out to a wider audience. CLICK HERE to check out our crowdfunding website, where it is furnished with details of the mission and the donation levels available.  🙂

 

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[NOTE: Donations can also be issued and made to the IYC’s bank account, YAYASAN PUSAT BELIA ANTARABANGSA (Maybank account number: 014132424724).]

 

Help be a part of the solution to the problem. Your donation and support means the world to me, no matter how big or small, and eventually to the underprivileged Cambodians – remember that every dollar counts! Do keep updated with us and our progress in Cambodia on our social media platforms and hashtags:

 

MYCorps, Cambodia: Mission 2 Facebook page
Official Facebook page
Official Twitter account
Official Instagram account
Official website
#MYCorpsCambodia2
#FUNdraise4Cambodia



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I will try to do my very best to periodically update my social media platforms while I am in Cambodia. Follow me on my journey of the mission on my Twitter account and Instagram account!

 

A huge THANK YOU in advance for taking your time to read this, for reading more about our mission, for making donations and for supporting us on this mission. Stay tuned for more updates!

 

Day 17 – Halfway done

 

The second week of training camp has come to an end.
That marks two more weeks before deployment to Cambodia.
Two more weeks to the start of the ‘real deal’.
Two more weeks to put endurance to the test.
Two more weeks to making a difference in the lives of the underprivileged Cambodians. 🙂

 

 

Update: got back from camping out in the wilderness for 3 days and 2 nights without proper amenities, ie. no shower, no toilets, outdoor cooking, sleeping in tents, mosquito attacks – the whole package. Not that I am complaining, but it was quite an interesting 3 days spent at the Nomad Earth Camp in Gopeng, Perak.

 

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Our campsite, gobsmacked in the middle of nowhere.

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Planning the menu and ingredients shopping for 70 people – all under 45 minutes.

 

The highlight of the camp is trekking to Bukit Batu Putih the next morning. It was a relatively easy hike with a rewarding view overlooking the Kinta district.

 

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You know what they say about how every cloud has a silver lining? Well, the sunset on our last night was our very mesmerising silver lining.

 

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THIS SILHOUETTE SHOT ❤

 

Side note: with every camp comes a new, different injury that gives a whole new experience. [Got hammered on the finger, the skin broke and blood gushed out. The recovery process is going to hurt real bad – but thank goodness no stitches required!]

 

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The last 2.5 weeks has been truly life changing.

 

The people that I meet,
the lessons that I learnt,
the conversations that I had,
the experiences that I went through;
they superseded beyond my expectations.
Honestly, I am excited for what’s to come.

 

More updates to come!

Day 1 – Dorm Life Begins

 

I have been longing to leave home again.
Not permanently, and not for long.
But long enough to get some space,
to gain some new experiences,
and to broaden my horizons.

 

In the last two years,
I learnt that I have far too much to leave behind.
I realised that sometimes
foregoing dreams is the only option.

 

Not this time.
Not when I fought harder.
Not when I set new goals.

 

 

 

All set for a brand new experience and an adventure of a lifetime! 🙂

 

Run, and never stop

 

[First things first: I AM DONE WITH CLP EXAMS YAAAASSSSSSS FREEDOM IS HERE SCREW WORRYING ABOUT RESULTS I’VE GOT TO ENJOY MY TEMPORARY LIBERATION.]

 

*

 

Fact: I have always hated running.

Competing for the relay events during the annual sports year in high school certainly does not connote that I loved it or that I was good or fit. I was never the best, but not the worst.

I have stopped running since I dislocated my right kneecap (and eventually dislocating both altogether), and it was tough to pick it back up.

It was tough because I could not focus on running for more than 10 minutes, let alone a few kilometres.

I just stopped feeling the joy I used to enjoy from running.

Call it therapy or remedy, but I picked up running again this year.
Like many people, running became my temporary escape.
For a few minutes, for an hour,
I was free from my trouble and worries.

 

 

The initial progress was exhausting, painful, and gruesome – all I want to do after every run was to quit. But somehow, it became a big part of my routine. It became a discipline, it became something that I genuinely enjoy.

Starting my day before 6AM on four mornings in a week doesn’t feel like a chore.
I lay down my running gear the night before a run (for real).
I grew fond of peanut butter and banana toast; a perfect pre-run fuel.
KT Tape and knee guards are my best friends,
and so are my specially curated Spotify playlist and the Nike+ Running app.
The track and the lake are my safe havens.

 

What amazed me is completing my first 10K run under my target time (!!!) at the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon.

 

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From there on, it just keeps getting better.
Weekly 10K runs.
Clocking in more miles and new PBs.
Completing my first run on the road AND my first 16K run.
(Honestly I am amazed at how I did not faint or puked!)

 

In fact, running has also transcend into my outlook on life.

 

It helped me to deal with negativity,
to stay focused on my goals,
to accept defeat but to never give up,
to put in hard work and be persistent,
to believe that I can achieve anything
so long as I put my mind to it.

 

The best part?

 

I have never been happier in a very long while  🙂