Thursday, October 31, 2013

How Toastmasters Club Improves One's Happiness Quotient

"Can money buy happiness?" This was one of the questions posed by the Table Topics Master at the last Toastmasters Club Meeting.

That sets me thinking. Money does not buy happiness. But we do need money to stay happy in a society. We need money to meet our basic needs, such as food and housing. Once those are met, higher incomes do little to boost happiness. Instead we will look for true rewarding relationships with friends and ourselves. Research shows that having a tight-knit circle of family and friends is a reliable indicator of happiness. 

Everyone wants to be happy. Today, I will like to share on how Toastmasters Club improves our level of happiness.

1. Providing a Supportive and Positive Environment. According to Dr Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, paying gratitude visit where one pens a letter of thanks and pays a visit to tell one's benefactor will greatly elevate one's happiness index. This is what we do at the Toastmasters meeting. As the Toastmaster of the Day, we thank the appointment holders and prepared speech speakers for making the meeting a success.

2. Providing Encouraging Feedback. As speech evaluators, we learn to listen carefully to identify strengths and areas for improvement. This helps to create a positive flow such that fellow members and guests enjoy the meeting so much that they lose track of time. At the same time, prepared speakers understand that the evaluations provided by the evaluators are based on the evaluators' personal opinions. 

3. Stop Incessant Comparison. Toastmasters Programme is a self-directed one. In this journey, we are our biggest competitor and our aim is to be better than we were yesterday.

Life is full of setbacks. We will all go through different feelings - anger, disappointment, grief, sadness. This is part and parcel of the journey called life. Strategies to be happy include distraction- doing something different; reappraisal- looking at things differently; and suppression- not to think about it.

Whatever strategy that one chooses, one should direct attention to people or things that brings one joy and gratitude. Toastmasters meeting offers that avenue for one to share happy memories.

Every time I attend the meeting, I always volunteer to help out wherever I can. It is akin to attending a motivational seminar, I feel great to contribute and never fail to emerge motivated. More than that, my speaking and leadership skills are also notching northwards in the process.

Toastmasters Club meets my social as well as self-esteemed needs. In short, it is an awesome organisation. What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Holiday in the Hills

The year-end holiday session is here again. Here I am sharing a recent holiday in Cameron Highlands. Enjoy!


Holiday in the Hills

The famous “The hills are alive” was belt out by Julie Andrews in the musical, The Song of Music. The song was singing in my head when I arrived at Cameron Highlands.

Nestled in the lush greenery and next to Heritage Hotel, Greenhill Resort offers a cool respite from the hustle and bustle of the city life. The climate is at a comfortable 20 Degree Celsius. As my two innocuous boys chorused, “Hey, there is air-conditioning at this whole mountain!”

This was a lovely view from the apartment which we put up at. It has been a wonderful break. 

Yodelayheehoo! Here is wishing you a happy holiday ahead. 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Golf and I

Here I am again at the Golfers' lounge, watching the professionals with their perfect swing and putt on the Golf Channel. I could only marvel and wish secretly that my golf prowess could one day reach half this level.

This is the year-end session where thunderstorms are prevalent in the equatorial Singapore. I was taking an enforced break due to lightning alert. In the Golfers' Lounge, I could have a stupendous view of the golf course. The golf designer had meticulously planned for the different shrubs, plants and trees which were carefully orchestrated for the maximum enjoyment of golfers. 

However, one should not be lulled into thinking that it was a walk in the park. To me, it was a tall order to even pick up this gentleman's sports. After much time, effort and money, my old habits were always lurking in the deep recesses of my mind waiting for every opportunity to pounce back with a vengeance.

At times I was and still am amazed at my tenacity. "Don't think too much and keep trying." I was always telling myself. I will continue. As long as I persevere, I can only get better. 

So dear readers, if you have encountered multiple failures, do not give up. Keep trying and enjoy the process. I am doing just that, penning a post while waiting for the lightnings to go away.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Colleagues, My Comrades

"We have a very tight deadline to meet," I said as a matter-of-factly.

"Let us know how we can each chip in." S volunteered.

My team is a diligent lot. Everyone is ever so willing to roll up their sleeves to lighten the workload together. 

I have been in my current position for three years and counting. Gosh! That means I have spent 1,095 days or 26,850 hours of my life here.

This is one of my most memorable posting as I have great colleagues who  are also my comrades.

First is Z, the veteran in the team with tonnes of experience under her belt. While she is a no-nonsense person, she has her light moments often with a deadpan look. She is humble and always willing to impart her huge reservoir of experience.

Next is R, the man in our team. An engineer by training, he is meticulous and thorough. He has a soft spot for ornamental prawns. Thanks to him, we are now proud parents of many generations of his first batch of prawns, whose wings have spread far and wide.

Then we have S. She is very cheerful and a joy to be with. She is hardworking and always going the extra mile. An eternal optimist, she always finds the silver lining in every dark cloud. Fortunately or not, that applies to food too.

Enters L. L is considerate and conscientious worker. She has an innate maternal instinct and we call "Ho mama" affectionately. She is artistically inclined and brightens our day with her intricately designed art pieces. Who needs to queue for the minions toys when we have L's?

How can I forget dear M? She is always toiling in the background to ensure that the routine reports are out each month. She is highly responsible and independent. She has lots of initiatives and will always be so willing to help out in things big and small.

They are my dear colleagues, my comrades. At times, I am surprised that we click so well though we are such a diverse group. Despite the great difference in age and temperament, we are in tune with each other, like the harmonious keys of a piano.  They are my brother and sisters that I never had.

Thank you for helping out always so willingly. I am indeed blessed to have comrades like you

Oktoberfest Public Speaking Meeting

Do you have fear of speaking in the public? Most people are more fearful of speaking than death.

Join Toastmasters to conquer this fear and build your confidence. You will have fun while learning and make wonderful friends in the process. 

Here I am sharing a write-up of a Toastmasters' meeting.

To your speaking success.

Oktoberfest Public Speaking Meeting

It was a lovely Wednesday evening. The setting sun was hiding behind the clouds and was preparing to give way to the evening moon.

Fellow toastmasters and guests started to stream in from 7.15 pm to attend the upcoming Toastmasters meeting. The atmosphere was comfortable and cordial. At 7.30 pm sharp, our Club President, RB called the meeting to order. 

He extended a very warm welcome to one and all before sharing on how Toastmasters Programme had made him stand out from the crowd. He was able to make an impactful presentation with the help of Toastmasters Programme. We were also treated with a short clip on the inspiring speech by Malala Yousafzai at the United Nations.

Thereafter, the meeting proceeded into the prepared speech segment. In this segment, fellow toastmasters who have prepared their speeches using the speaking manual provided by Toastmasters International, took the stage. The audience was enthralled by the folk tale, "Where is the Love", shared by R. We next, listened in rapt attention to G's speech entitled "The Fabulous Destiny of Amelia" as she brought us to a world of enchantment.

The second segment of the meeting was the Table Topics session. This segment was to allow members and guests to practice impromptu speaking. The theme of the night was money and this segment was helmed by T. 

Moving on to the third segment was evaluation time. This was where fellow toastmasters could improve under the tutelage of more experienced toastmasters. The latter gave their verbal evaluation in an encouraging manner. There was also a language evaluation by A, who pointed out the good usage and the inappropriate use of the English language. Not forgetting, the timer's and the Ah Counter's report, so that we would all make good use of precious time and reduce our pause fillers in our speeches.

As the night curtains drew down, our meeting too came to a close. Our Club President gave his closing address and wished us a safe journey home. 

Thank you, my fellow toastmasters and especially to our guests, for making the meeting a great success. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Language Evaluation

First time being a language evaluator? This post is specially for you.

I have volunteered to be the language evaluator for a toastmaster meeting. My first attempt was more than a year ago. 

Today, I will like share a simple structure which has worked pretty well for me. I hope it will also get you started to be a language evaluator.  There is a saying by Patrick Chang, a fellow toastmaster, "To start, you don't have to be good. To be good, you have to start."

Here it goes.

1. Greetings.

2. Explain to guests on the role of the language evaluator. There are three. One is to commend on the good use of English. Two is to recommend on the inappropriate use. And three is to help expand our vocabulary, by having a word of the day.

3. As the language evaluator, we need to listen intently to capture and classify as follows:
a. Vivid use of language. 
E.g. The dark noodle was fried to perfection and oozing with fragrant garlic.  Good quality dark and light soy sauce accentuated the noodle dish.
b. Metaphors. 
 E.g. Life is a journey. 
The goalkeeper was a rock.
c. Similes e.g. The goalkeeper was as solid as rock. As right as rain. Good coffee is like friendship: rich, warm and strong.
d. Power of three. 
E.g. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
“Government of the people, by the people, for the people”
“Friends, Romans, Countrymen”
“Blood, sweat and tears”
“Location, location, location”
"Mind, body, spirit”
“Stop, Look and Listen”
"I came, I saw, I conquered”
e. Alliteration/assonance 
E.g. "She sells sea-shells down by the seashore."
"Hale and healthy"
"Wealth and health"
f. Personification - is when you assign the qualities of a person to something that isn't human or, in some cases, to something that isn't even alive.

4. Inappropriate use
a. Colloquialism e.g. "You want to eat?"
b. Grammar/ subject-verb agreement e.g. "Everyone can heard ..."
c. Pronunciation e.g. "Tree and three"

5. Comment on who use the word of the day. Thereafter, conclude the segment with an encouraging note.

All the best!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Toastmasters and I

I have just received the latest Toastmaster magazine. As usual, I savoured the magazine from cover to cover. 

The magazine never fails to lift up my spirit and is always packed with useful information on how to be a better leader and speaker.

Every time I read the magazine I gained new insights. Today, I learnt and I quoted:

"It is not the size of words that counts, but the clearness with which they represent your thoughts."

Dr Ralph C. Smedley 

As I close this short post, I am looking forward to another exciting Toastmaster meeting later.

Have an awesome weekend, my readers!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Two Mothers Remembered

Today, I will just want to share this beautiful poem about mother. Love your mother always. Ah Ma, I love you.


Two Mothers Remembered
by Joann Snow Duncanson
I had two Mothers - two Mothers I claim
Two different people, yet with the same name.
Two separate women, diverse by design,
But I loved them both because they were mine.

The first was the Mother who carried me here,
Gave birth and nurtured and launched my career.
She was the one whose features I bear,
Complete with the facial expressions I wear.

She gave her love, which follows me yet,
Along with the examples in life she set.
As I got older, she somehow younger grew,
And we'd laugh as just Mothers and daughters do.

But then came the time that her mind clouded so,
And I sensed that the Mother I knew would soon go.
So quickly she changed and turned into the other,
A stranger who dressed in the clothes of my Mother.

Oh, she looked the same, at least at arm's length,
But now she was the child and I was her strength.
We'd come full circle, we women three,
My Mother the first, the second and me.

And if my own children should come to a day,
When a new Mother comes and the old goes away,
I'd ask of them nothing that I didn't do.
Love both of your Mothers as both loved you.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Unexpected Incident at Legoland

Anticipation was in the air when we woke up. It was because we had a date with E's family at Legoland, Malaysia. The last unforgetable trip also at Legoland but in Chicago was in June this year. E was there as her father was outstationed there for a few months while we had planned for years to re-visit USA again. The boys have great fun and were looking forward to reminicise those good, joyous time.


We met E and her family at Mindstorm. Her family was there earlier and had helped to book a 45 minute timeslot at 11 am. Somehow, time flew and in a jiffy, the kids were ushered out of the room. We had a quick mini lunch break before the kids attended another 45 minute session at 12 pm. When they had finally completed the indoor session, theywere raving for the thrilling rollercoaster rides.


There was a light drizzle which fizzled out soon enough. However, the sky was overcasted with dark clouds looming ominously just above our heads. As we proceeded to the "Dragon Apprentice" for our rides, the kids could not resist the temptation to race in a bid to race against time.


The crowd was fairly thick and the ground was slightly wet after the passing shower. I saw R trying to navigate through the crowd. Suddenly, he slipped and fell. He picked himself up and wanted to continue running. From a distance, I could see blood flowing profusely down from his head. A Japanese couple shouted "Boy, stop running. You are bleeding." The man grabbed R on his hand firmly and brought him to the nearest cafe to ask for first aid. In the meantime, he had also requested for serviette and cold press to stop the bleeding.


R was lying on my lap as I applied the cold press on his head and at the same time, assuring that it was alright. Before long, the medic came. He checked the wound and advised us to send R to hospital. Before which, he cleaned up the wound and administered first aid so as to stop the bleeding. Legoland staff then accompanied us out on their buggy as  R was in no condition to walk.


We then drove back to Singapore to send R to the Hospital. The doctor examined R and told us that it was a small but deep cut. Preparation was made for the doctor to stitch up the wound. All through out R's ordeal, I was with him. It was the same when he had his appendix removed. R's eyes were flashing with apprehension but they quickly looked assured when our eyes met. I smiled and praised him for being such a brave boy. For a nine-year old boy, it must be intimidating but he pulled through it beautifully without a single drop of tear.


Before long, R was back to his cheery self even though he admitted that he was very scared that he may die after the fall. An opportunist, he always is, he asked for his prized soft toy which I baulked at the hefty price tag and had declined him on several occasions. I relented and I wished for his speedily recovery.


It may have been an unfortunate incident at Legoland. However, it has brought our family closer. It reminded me that while the boys are older now, parents still give them the assurance and love that make them feel confident and strong.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


For centuries, women had been suffering in silence under the oppression of men. Men with huge ego whose hubris made them feel superior and infallible. The more unreasonable control they exerted, the more righteous they believed. The more successful the men were, the more invulnerable they felt.

No longer so! For women have been emancipated in many parts of the world. It was therefore fitting for our Club President, Reuben to dedicate the Saturday's toastmasters' club meeting to women.

The meeting was called to order by our smartly-dressed Toastmaster of the Day, Wendy. She was confident and had good control of the meeting.

Highlights of the meeting included the kind reminder from our lovely VPE, Dr Latha. She took the opportunity to remind us that October was the month of pink ribbon aka breast cancer awareness. For women who are 40 and above, it is advisable to go for mammogram.

We learnt a new word, "audacity", which met boldness from our dashing language evaluator, Jun. He also provided an example of its use as in "we admire his audacity to take the challenge to speak on stage."

As with our toastmasters meeting, there was a lot of fun alongside learning. As I stepped out of the air-conditioned room into the scorching-hot weather outside, my heart was filled with all the good emotions. With a smile in my face, I walked with a spring in my steps. It has been such a wonderful experience.

P/s: There were many more learning lessons but I would not be doing justice to pen them all down, with my limited memory and writing skills. Nothing beats attending the session live. Hope to see you at the next fellowship meeting!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Running on the track

"Root beer, Fanta Grape, coffee and milo." The coffee assistant, a man pushing 50 with a crew-cut hair, recited from memory, the moment he saw us.

We had just arrived at the coffee shop after our morning jog. This was a routine started 6 months ago by my hubby. 

"P would need the discipline and training," he reasoned. "Especially so, when he will subsequently be called up for National Service enlistment." My hubby was a big picture guy who was also a long-term planner. 

When we first started our weekly morning jog, R was always whining. He was then still in student care centre. The teachers had a hard time managing him as he was constantly throwing tantrums in the centre. I was also at my wits' end as he would be brawling over the smallest incident. He would be accusing, "Mummy doesn't love me."

As for P, his results tumbled despite the many tutors that I had engaged.
Both P and R were crying in their own ways for me to spend more time with them. 

As a full-time working mother, I often only reached home past 9 pm. At times, they starved just to wait for me to knock off to have dinner with me. I was guilt-stricken but there was work to complete.

Things came to a head when I had to withdraw R from the centre along with his brother, P. My hubby and I decided that they are our children, our responsibilities. We decided that we could make do with a single income. Consequently, I worked part-time to be share their joys and sorrows.

In the past, we used to buy expensive gifts and headed out for lavish dinner frequently. Now I spend more time and cook simple but nutritious meal for my family. My hubby's weight has also reduced. With lots of tender loving care, both boys have grown more mature and secured. Now, I could have own me time over the weekend. I suppose this is a better quality of life.

Life is like running on the track. If we sprint all the way, we will get burnout. We need to take time to enjoy the scenery, to smell the roses, to be with the people we care. After all, they are the real bosses behind what we are doing.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

An outing after PSLE

This was a journal written by P. It's quite an easy read which is also entertaining. Enjoy.

It was a hot and humid day. Mum and I went to the town centre to buy a book I wanted. 

We got there by car. It took some time before we found a parking space as there were a lot of cars then. After that, we went to Popular bookshop to buy the book. As I could not find the book I wanted, I bought some other books. 

Then, we went to a Japanese restaurant to buy my brother, R's favorite cheese cake."I'm sure R will be elated when he sees the cheese cake." I thought . Finally, we bought ourselves some soya bean drinks to quench our thirst and tubs of bean curds for daddy.

Sure enough, R was over the moon when he saw what we got for him. In fact, he helped himself to the delicious cheese cake before we settled down.

All in all, it was a truly enjoyable trip I had even though I did not get the book I wanted.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A little shopping extravaganza

Last Sunday, the Lim's kitchen fell quiet as the chef, who was none other than yours truly, went out for a little get-together with her girl friends. 

I left the shepherding of the boys to their golf lessons to my husband, who was happy for me to have some me time. It has been a long time since I indulged in myself in non-productive but equally important distraction such as shopping. 

With little time in my hands, I have to be ruthlessly efficient. But this was also very draining. Shopping used to mean going to a specific place and ticking meticulously the items off the shopping list. There was no room for idleness. No time to waste.

So Sunday was a very special shopping treat for me. My friends and I met to have lunch at Old Airport Hawker Centre. After which we had a spur of the moment decision and headed to Bugis area just to while our afternoon away.

Bugis street market was a Mecca for shoppers and bargain hunters. Among the varied merchandises that the stall holders hawked, there were many which could be found on Taobao, a China-based Internet platform. There were also many stalls selling many curios and knick knacks. Each could be a conversation piece.

What made this shopping trip memorable was my friends. They peppered the shopping experience with their genuine feedback. With little inhibitions, our comments were often delivered with great punchline.

At the end of which, our legs were aching in protest. However, we had enjoyed ourselves basking in good companionship. Thank you, my dear friends.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Happy Children's Day

Friday was Children's Day. It was also the first school holiday after the PSLE. 

The Lim family hit out at East Coast Park to cycle to our heart's content. We rent four mountain bicycles and set off to our adventure. Okay, I exaggerated. 

It was the same, old route. But somehow when we were cycling, flanked on both sides by lush foliage and with the serene sea in the horizon, it was heavenly. As the gentle breeze caressed our face and hair, all our troubles and worries melted away instantly.

After the two hours cycling, we reloaded our body with cold, sugary drinks. We were not done yet. Our next stop was the swimming pool. 

"Mum, let's play cat and mouse with cheese." R's voice plaintive with hope.

This was a game concocted by R where the cheese was actually the float. The mouse was supposed to sneak to get the cheese.

That was what we did for a good one and a half hour soaking in the swimming pool, alternating between the adult and children pool.

After a day of strenuous exercising, we were famished. We had dinner in a Western restaurant. It had been a long time since I felt so blissful with my hubby and children, tucking in our food merrily.

As the night curtains drew down, we were on our way home. We were tired but happy. As I kissed my two boys goodnight, there was a gentle smile on their face that lingered on. 

They had enjoyed themselves. So did I. Happy Children's Day.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ah Pa

You love us in your own ways
Reticent, never outwardly 
In your loud and rowdy manner
We know it is always in our best interest

You eschewed the luxury of life
But after toiling for all your life
It's alright to indulge a little

Let us play our part
To thank you for loving us
And taking such good care of us

Thank you Ah Pa
We love you 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

4 simple steps to be happy

Today, I will like to share four simple steps to be happy.

Make the decision right NOW to live a happy and fulfilling life starting from now on. The power of your decision and intent is unbelievable.

Then, follow the four steps detailed below.

Step 1: Change your focus. Don't focus on the problems. Focus on the solution.

If you are in a life situation where you feel overwhelmed by problems, don't worry, you are not alone. About 90% of the population is living in the same way, some may be worse. 

The most dangerous thing to do is to focus on your problem. When you put your attention on your problem, it gets energy from you, and it will grow bigger, until one day it becomes so big that it consumes you. 

A simple way to get ahead of 90% of the population and become part of the top 10%, is to change focus. The moment you change your focus, you open up new possibilities. 

Step 2: Activate your sub-conscious mind.

The next step is to solve the problems on hand.

Albert Einstein once said, "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."

The way to solve your problems Iies through imagination, which is also your sub-conscious mind. The sub-conscious mind knows all the solutions to every one of your problems. You will get all your answers if you know how to ask.

Here is a simple and powerful way you can activate your sub-conscious mind right now.

Write it down and trust that your sub-conscious mind will bring the solution to you.

It can be something as follows

"Dear my subconscious mind,

Please guide me to the right people, information and actions that will lead me to ... (finding my solutions or fulfilling my desires). "

Sign your name beneath it. Believe in it entirely.

Step 3: Live in the moment.

Once you activate your sub-conscious mind, it will guide you to the answer in the most intelligent way that you ever imagine possible. 

Live in the moment so that you will be able to recognise the answer when it comes. Most people spend their time worrying about the future and talking about the past, so they are never living in the present.

When you live in the present, you feel in control, and life magic is unfolding to you in every moment. You simply wish and the answers come. 

Then how do you live in the moment

Be an observer of your mind. Once you realize your mind is worrying about the past or worrying about the future, bring it back to this moment.

Remind yourself that the solution is at this moment. When you find yourself in the present moment, ask yourself this question, "What is the next thing I need to do in order to bring forth my heart desires?" This should be a question you ask yourself all the time.

Write it down and put it somewhere you can easily see. This is a reminder for you to stay in the moment.

Step 4: Go to the silence

When you are waiting in the present moment for your answers to come, NEVER ever become frustrated if your answers don't come at a time you expect. You have to be patient with your sub-conscious mind, because it knows what is the best time-your conscious mind does not. If you find yourself losing patience, it is important for you to go to the silence and reconnect with your sub-conscious mind. This can be done by a simple 15-minute meditation.

Use these 4 simple steps and see how it will transform your life forever.

To our happiness!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Mother

My mother was a beautiful woman. She still is. She devotes her life to care for her family, for my deceased father, my brothers and me.

We are her first priority. We are always close to her heart. Her love for us is unconditional and unlimited.

She has given us her very best. She has been our bank where we deposit all our pains and sorrows. 

Now that we are grown up, we shall be the shoulder for her to lean on. Her shoes will be hard to fill but we will try our very best.