I have redefined retirement at age 23. I have a lifestyle where I do the things I like, with the time I have and still get paid for it. I designed my freedom these two decades, traveling to more than 40 countries. I run a successful business doing consulting works as a Corporate Writer, Corporate Emcee, Event Producer and a Workshop Facilitator. I am also a talk-show host on an Internet Radio station with two programs "A Course In Miracles for Work-Life" and "Freedom Speaks". Life is Healthy, Rich & FREE! You can design this lifestyle according to your willingness. I hope mine will inspire you to achieve that freedom too.

Friday, November 30, 2007

22 years - Macau revisited, Zhuhai a bonus!!

Macau is definitely a very mixed culturally rich place to eat, enjoy and be merry. I like the cobbled stones roads which still exist after so many years.
I was in Macau some 22 years ago. That time tourism was already booming especially the casinos. There was only one which is then the biggest, most talked about casino in town. That was the first time ever I watched the Moulin Rouge show called "Crazy Horses" with all the artistic female dancers in nude, they performance was well crafted. The choreography was immaculate, the props and lighting were marvellously synchronized and what can I say, their bodies to die for, hey, what the heck, I was only 20 years old.
Returning to this place now gives me the breath of steel bars, concrete and bridges. Macau is now architecturally inspiring. The hotels, especially Venetian Resort Macau which house the casino and hotel, took my breath away with its luscious design and overwhelming spaciousness. I was in awe with the spacious ambience in the casino, the magnitude of its sheer size is astounding.
No wonder Macau is called the "Monte Carlo of the East". Really fascinating!!
22 years ago, I remember the tourist guide took me to the Pearl River Delta bordering Macau and China then. I could only view from this side of Macau over to China with its Chinese Flag flapping in the air, she pointed at the flag which is hardly visible and told me that is China. Oh well, that was then Malaysian tourists' attraction in Macau, I think.
Now, we just need 20 minutes from downtown Macau city to conveniently get a stamp on my passport and step over to Zhuhai, China. How time has changed and closed the gap between cultures and countries, super, isn't it??!!
(Info from website :
Located in the Xianglu Bay, Sculpture of Zhuhai Fisher Girl is the symbol of Zhuhai. It is 8.7 meters high. It was designed and built according to a beautiful local folklore. The Sculpture of Zhuhai Fisher Girl and the Lover’s Road along the seashore constitute the tourist attraction of "Fisher Girl & Xianglu Bay”, one of the “Top Ten Tourist Attractions of Zhuhai”. )

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Listen! I am Angry - young adults speaking up!!

Last week we organised a 2-day Youth Leadership Program for young adults by D'Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club. We got the original materials from Toastmasters International where we conduct training with games and practices to enhance leadership skills and communication skills. We covered topics such as How To Organise Your Speech, Your Speaking Voice, Your Body Speaks, How To Use Words to Enhance Speeches and etc.

I am Toastmaster member for almost 12 years now. I had conducted Youth Leadership Program many times over the past 12 years. This time, however, I facilitated the first day program thus doing ice-breaking and getting the participants to be ready for a leadership game the next day.

In the first morning when the young adults gathered, they seemed to be sitting in their own seats and keeping real quiet, not looking at each other. Being school going young adults, they open up and became talkative and playful just in about an hour.

So, to kickstart the program, I ask everyone if they know why they are there. Astoundingly, more than 7 out of the 13 students do not really know why they are there, let alone knowing what the 2 days are all about.

Some who seem to know thought that it is about learning the English Language, 1 or 2 are told that it is communication skills workshop but don't really know what it is. Only 1 out of the 13 students knows that he is there because he wants to learn to be able to speak confidently in public, well, that will give him a full 9 points out of 10, bravo!! (In fact, I want to get to know this young man more, to see from what family background he is brought up in to be so "knowing" about what he wants.)

These are students from 11-17 years old. On that bright sunny day, there is this particular 15-year-old girl whom I am impacted the most by her answer. I ask her if she knows why she is sent there, she said she did not know, her parents just wanted her to come, because it is school holidays. So, I ask her if she want to come herself, the answer is no. Then I ask her how did she feel? She said that she is angry. So I said, did you tell your parents you are angry? No, they won't listen anyway, she drops her head and retorted softly, but I could hear her.

Nevertheless, at the 2-day program, I could see that she enjoyed herself anyway, because after the first introduction, she sort of blend into the group and made the most of the 2 days. At least that was a pleasure to observe.

The point is this : if we were allowed to express our anger and being loved the way we are and being accepted as we are, that could have saved us from the beginning of the growth of, say, maybe even liver cancer starting at the age of 15. (Check out Louise Hay's book "You Can Heal Your Life" or click here for her website.) And we always thought that some degenerative diseases happen when we are 60 or older, and we can't imagine that the growth could have started that long ago in the past - when we are not allowed to speak up and suppress our thoughts (or in this case, anger)!!

Caroline Myss, a medical intuitive (click here for her website), in her ground breaking audio series and book where she expound on the subject of our "Sacred Contract", she mentioned an observation when she was in a little village somewhere in the middle east. She was in a wedding ceremony where the bride and the bridegroom sitting side by side receiving all the blessings from well-wishers. She saw that the groom was smiling happily looking at his bride whom he probably had her through some arranged marriage. But the bride held such sadness in her eyes, it breaks the heart of people who could sense it. It was like someone being forced into a contract she never wanted to sign. And Caroline said that it is a sign of the beginning of cancer.

So, is it time to really look within, where did I started hating someone, where have I started being angry, over what? when did it happen? For that young 15-year old girl in the Youth Leadership Program, the anger was already etched into her "memory disk". No wonder sometime we did not know how on earth we snap at each other over a parking space or an A4 size paper? Huh...??

Sunday, November 25, 2007

While I was making Spiced Plum Squares

While I was preparing the ingredients for the Spiced Plum Squares, grating the orange zest, weighing the flour, rubbing in the butter, and getting the sweet smell of cinnamon, in my mind I was happily running back to my days when I first got the hang of baking.

I just wonder how on earth I got my hands in baking when I was in my primary school days, perhaps 10 or 12 years old (got to ask my mum one of these days)? I remember I baked banana cake (my speciality then) and my aunts loved them, it was like so "famous" it went to become the "talk of tinseltown". And I will be so perked up and proud of my "creation" that I went on to try out other recipes. How did I get into the baking frenzy when I was so young, in a small little town called Teluk Intan, Perak? I wonder.

My mum does not bake although she cooks for the family, she only cooks those dishes which were passed-downable ones, like usual steam fish, black sauce chicken, stir-fry vegetables and usual Chinese family stuff. But I went on to bake banana cake and I don't know what else I baked but the most memorable one was the banana cake, yeah, I could have baked chocolate cake too.

I remember I got a big round plastic pail (yeah, it was a pail), a big long wooden spatula (it was long because I was small then, don't rememeber if my mum bought me all these utensils or I just rummaged her kitchen for anything that I use to whip). I put the ingredients in the big round plastic pail, I sat down on a wooden stool, and put the pail on another wooden stool and held the pail in-between my legs. Now I remember I held on to the pail so hard my thighs hurt because I needed to mix the ingredients - flour, butter and sugar before folding in the crushed banana. It was a very tedious job, it was in the 1970's, so imagine I was young, no electric mixer or any other electronic baking equipment, I stirred until my tiny hands went numb. Then I rest for a while and whisked again, I think I could have stopped and rested a few times before the mixing was done. Come to think of it, quite comical then. And no one taught me to bake, not my mum, not anyone, I just sort of picked up the fun of cooking all by myself.

But the funniest thing I could remember was the crushing of the banana, I just thought they looked kind of mushy and sticky- no wonder it sticked in my memory for such a long time.

Talking about evolving consciousness, I think perhaps I was a chef some past embodiment, so I can pick it up so easily at so young an age and without much supervision or coaching too.

Well, that was really a nostalgic time for me while thinking what I did when I was younger and whisked up this Spiced Plum Square recipe one morning.

Recipe for Spiced Plum Square

This is a very delicious Tea Time Treats.

Someone loved it so much, she asked me if I can make it, wrap it pretty and sell it as any pastry shop would.

Well, this baking has commercial value after all.

Enjoy this afternoon treat with tea or coffee - with friends of course!!

Spiced Plum Square
(Recipe from Comfort Food, published by Quadrille Publishing Ltd)

Cuts into 12 squares
Preparation 20 minutes (I took more than 1 hour)
Cooking 20 minutes (I like really brown ones, so 35 minutes is good)

150g/6oz butter, cut into pieces, plus more for greasing
300g/10oz self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
50g/2oz caster sugar
(I use brown sugar)
finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
about 150ml milk
700g plums, stoned and quartered
50g butter
50g light muscovado sugar
(I use brown sugar)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
icing sugar, for dusting
(I use Nutrifresh instead, less sweet)
cream or crème fraiche, to serve
(I eat it with ice-cream)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6. Lightly grease a 23x33cm/9x13in Swiss roll tin (I use Pyrex microwaveable glassware, sometimes the cake tin too.) Cut 100g/4oz of the butter into pieces. Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the chopped butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles crumbs. Stir in the caster sugar and orange zest. Pour in most of the milk and mix, using a flat-bladed knife, to form a soft scone dough, adding more milk if it seems too dry.
  2. Form into a ball with your hands, but don’t overhandle. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to the same size as the base of the tin (when I first tried this recipe, I used a roller pin to roll out the dough, after that, got a little lazy, I put the whole ball in the centre of the baking tin and press it to spread it out evenly). Lift the dough into the tin and gently press in.
  3. Scatter the plums over the scone dough and dot the remaining butter on top. Mix together the light muscovado sugar (I use brown sugar and it taste great too) and cinnamon and sprinkle over the plums. Pour the orange juice over the top.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes until the base is golden and the plums bubbling and juicy.
  5. Remove from the oven, dust with icing sugar, cut into 12 squares and serve with cream or crème fraiche (I don’t know what this is so I prefer to eat with ice cream).