Friday, May 28, 2010

Wesak Day 2010

With the past week filled with wetness, dampness and coldness, I did not expecting anything less today. However, the weather surprisingly proved to me that forecasts are not always true. I made a last minute decision to have lunch in the city with Angeline and Chee Sing and hastily grabbed my newly bought military-style coat from my wardrobe. I jammed, turned and walked towards my window. I peered through the blinds and thought to myself, "I am so going to roast in this coat today. Maybe it's not such a good idea then...."

Yes, we had SUNSHINE today. Yippee! I wonder if today being Wesak Day had anything to do with it.... hm...

I was just in time to catch the 1:55pm train to the city. When I got off at Town Hall, I rang the two lovebirds and met them downstairs of their studio apartment. We then walked towards Peace Harmony Vegetarian Thai Restaurant, located corners of King and Erskine Street. Unfortunately, we did not get to sample any of their well-reviewed food, as their kitchen was closed for orders. Bummer....

Recalling another place on Pitt Street, we then went to Mother Chu's Vegetarian Kitchen. As I neared the shop, I stopped in my tracks as soon as I noticed the sign on the door - it began with 'C' instead of 'O'.... Sigh...

'Maybe we could go to a Thai restaurant and order the vegetarian stuff? Can right? They do that right?'

Nods and shoulder shrugs later, we walked further down the street to popular Thai restaurant, Saap Thai. There was not a single customer, resulting in our food arriving promptly.


Chee Sing ordered a Pad Thai with vegetables and tofu:


He also ordered a glass of cincau. Angeline had her favourite vegetarian tomyum noodles:


She asked me, "Can drink milk or not ah?" When I gave the affirmative, she rejoiced like a little child treated with candy and placed an order for a glass of Thai milk tea:


I, on the other hand, was just too happy to ask for a plate of green curry rice with vegetables and tofu. Had no idea why I was just craving for green curry this arvo...


The curry itself was thick and had a strong coconut milk (santan) taste to it. It lived up to its spicy reputation but with the sweetness of the santan, I thought it balanced off quite well. They gave a sizeable portion of greens, of course including the french beans, capsicum, bamboo shoot slices and broccoli. It even had pieces of curry leaf and red chilli, which I removed entirely! I did not manage to finish the whole serving, leaving quite a portion of the rice behind. I guess it was the thickness of the curry that made me full without having to finish all the rice.

We were at the restaurant for quite some time, catching up about life and friends. We then went to hunt for a pair of boots at Kazui (or are they Kagui or Kasui?) over at World Square. Angeline had just bought a pair of black heeled boots from the same shop (TGV outlet) yesterday and was asking if I wanted to get a pair as well. There was a brown pair that was selling for $62 (only!) that I really liked. Even Angeline thought they looked good and felt comfy (yes, she tried them on, too). I returned them to the salesgirl, as I am determined to find myself a black pair. Wonder if they would be getting any new stock that would be of a similar price, comfort and design........

We parted after that and I went for a stroll at Darling Harbour. I think my timing for public transport today is impeccable, as I made it just in time for the train back home from Central. While walking home from the station, I managed to admire in full glory the Wesak full moon:


So, from under the brilliance of the moonshine, Happy Wesak Day and may you be well and happy always! Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

An Educational Perspective On Self-Esteem

I'm found this and was reminded of an old project a few of us undertook:

An Educational Perspective On Self-Esteem by Voon Shi Jing

Central to most definitions of self-esteem is a person’s positive or negative evaluation of himself or herself. It is a die-hard habit of mine to focus on the negative. Contrary to what some might think, I did not have an unhappy childhood. Fortunately, I was gifted with an extremely effective self-esteem therapist. Not just one, but in fact a host of them for eleven years. Growing up, my therapists were the children my mother teaches at her kindergarten. Teaching them has taught me a lot about how one should look at life. Whenever I wake up on the wrong side of bed or have an argument with my boyfriend, going to the kindergarten never fails to cheer me up and put me back on the right track. Their happy faces and pure thoughts humble me.

As an early childhood education major, my studies at university are proving true in relation to the experiences I have had with the children and myself. Academically, self-esteem covers five domains: scholastic competence, social acceptance, athletic competence, physical appearance, and behavioural conduct. At the ripe old age of 21, I still experience the need to evaluate myself from these angles.

In 1922, social scientist Charles Cooley wrote that

Each to each a looking glass
Reflects the other that doth pass.


His explanation: “As we see our face, figure, and dress in the glass [or mirror], and are interested in them because they are ours… so in imagination we perceive in another’s mind some thought of our appearance, manners, aims, deeds, character, friends and so on and are variously affected by it” (p. 184). Cooley assumed that other people are the mirrors in which we see ourselves. Our thoughts about ourselves are affected by how others react to us. When I was younger, I evaluated myself as I thought other people evaluated me. As the looking-glass metaphor implies, I perceived my social acceptance was related to my popularity. I slowly learnt that it was not entirely true. Being a new kid on the block was a ‘cool’ thing. People want to know you more and hence you would have more friends. I was popular in primary school and I thought it was because of that that I had lots of friends. I assumed that my high scores and good rapport with the teachers had a lot to do with my popularity. I later found out that I was popular for other reasons – not so good reasons. Unknown to myself, I was a show-off, and a really big one at that. And living in Seri Kembangan (which made me notoriously famous in both primary and high school for being late for classes) pushed me even further up the ‘popularity’ ladder. I was considered an outcast as everyone else lived in high-class Taman Desa while I was from a village outside Kuala Lumpur.

The looking-glass metaphor suggests that our opinions of ourselves are influenced by the opinions of those around. From a teacher’s perspective, feedback students receive regarding academic achievement should directly affect their self-evaluations, and vice versa. This I have found to be true. Not only through my own experience but also from what I have observed in the children I have shared my life with throughout the years. Positive remarks and words or encouragement motivate children to improve performance. Good performance in turn, lifts the spirits. We have all experienced the adrenaline rush after acing an exam, or winning a competition.

A close parent-child relationship shapes how parents interact with their children and well, parent. This influences the overall well-being of the children. Attachment theorists have proposed that the security of young children’s attachments to their parents affects their general self-esteem. This implies that young children do form some idea of their overall worth. Children who are more securely attached to their parents have higher self-esteem. In other words, children who had learnt to trust in their parents’ acceptance and responsiveness had also learnt to value themselves.

Parents’ behaviour is likely to have strong effects on children’s general self-esteem. Parents of children with higher self-esteem are more affectionate and more involved with their children. These parents make decisions democratically, thus showing their respect for their children’s views. They tend to avoid physical punishment and to rely on reasoning with their children. By doing so, parents show how much they value their children and respect their judgment. The parents of children with high self-esteem are also strict. They set rules for their children’s behaviour and enforce them consistently. Such strictness probably helps develop self-control. In addition, these children will probably learn socially accepted behaviour. By contrast, children with permissive parents probably show “out-of-control” behaviour that is disapproved of, leading to low self-esteem.

When parents provide such a “looking glass” for their children, the children have high self-esteem. In a looking glass, children can see their vices as clearly as their virtues. They learn to look at things from different perspectives, which explains why children with an advanced theory of mind would have high self-esteem. They are able to see the goodness and badness in themselves and are willing to overcome their weaknesses. With this ability, they are able to understand how other people feel and think in different situations hence explaining why children with high self-esteem would have more friends and are able to cope under stressed environments.

Generally, self-esteem shows a significant degree of continuity between childhood and adolescence. Children with low self-esteem would most likely continue to be an adolescent with low self-esteem. The same would be for children with high self-esteem. However, self-esteem can change dramatically over a period of two or three years. This is contrary to the widespread assumption that self-esteem develops gradually. I did not realize this until very much later on. Self-esteem develops quickly during elementary school, as it is the time when children are developing their own personality in accordance to their peers’. I had very high self-esteem in elementary school despite my wrongly acquired popularity. My report card would explain why. I was the top student in school, standing at first, second or third every year for 6 years. I was a school prefect and I was every teacher’s pet. However, as rapidly as I gained my good sense of self, I lost it just as easily if not quicker. This is a normal progression from elementary to middle or high school. I had a very low sense of self-worth in Forms 1 through to 3 as I was not performing as well academically and I felt threatened by people from other schools. Yes, all it took for me to switch from high to low self- esteem was the thought of me not being able to be ‘popular’. It sounds naïve and self-engrossed but there are many teenagers around the world who suffer the same fate. If it were not for my childhood friends, I would have drowned in the sea of self-pity and depression. My parents were my pillars of strength, especially my father who until today is my best friend.

Parents play a vital role in facilitating the growth of positive self-esteem. It is never too early to start teaching a child that he or she matters, or how to socialize with others in a way that is comfortable. The ability of a child to interact well with others is taught from the home. The very self-esteem of the man or woman the child will be depends on it.

Life #6

Does it show on my face when my heart skips a beat?
Does it show in my actions when I mute my excitement and glee?
Do you realise I began to look forward to our meetings?
Do you realise I am happier in your presence?

Gosh, I cannot recall when was the last time a feeling like that overcame me. The feeling of getting to know new people, of making new connections, of forging new ties. Or perhaps, it is the feeling of looking forward to a new-found hope of a lasting friendship. A friendship built from scratch, no previous data, zilch. It is always more exciting to paint on white canvas, don't you think?

But when two people connect well to each other, what does that normally say? Regardless of whether those two are related by blood or mere friends, I feel that a special connection is still a special connection.

One built on respect
understanding
discussions
occasional arguments
inspiration and
honesty

Deciding to open up one's heart to a new existence takes courage and belief in one's judgement. Even if that person is a long lost friend. Do you want to go with the flow and put in the building blocks of a two-way communication?

A special connection goes further than two-way communication. Heck, sometimes I even feel that it is more than two- way. It is that unseen bond that we so easily take for granted and conveniently forget to maintain. It deserves even more mention when that special connection starts in the early stages of a friendship - I sometimes have this urge to ask: Where the hell have you been all this time?

I believe that every person appears in your life for a reason, as a dear friend of mine pointed out. Therefore, I will treasure and utilise the time I have to the fullest with each and every one of them. For better or for worse. =)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Anzac camping weekend (Day 3)

Alas, the final day of our little camping getaway. It was a bright, sunny morning, which we thought was a shame for us to leave on such a good day. But hey, most of us have to work the next day so no choice.

As Malaysians, our days are filled with the topic of food and eating. First thing we thought - makan!


Haha... so we had ourselves a hearty brekkie, with Auds trying her barbeque apple...


And again, Lucas' creative way of toasting bread...


It was all good, with us ending the trip with some silliness. We were not sure what to do with the remainder of the eggs (we bought seven boxes of them!) so some of the eggs ended up like this:


Oh, and just as I was about to get into the car, I was given another reminder of the trip - another bite from an oh-too-friendly little leech.........

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Anzac camping weekend (Day 2)

It was a wet morning, perfect condition for more of us to get unwelcome bites from leeches on the prowl. As the rain started to clear slightly, we quickly cooked breakfast. It was quite a sight watching them prepare breakfast over the stove wearing ponchos. Had pictures taken but was strictly prohibited from posting any of it on cyberspace. We had umbrellas protecting the food and the cooks. Haha....

It was quite a breakfast, considering we were camping out in the wild; bacon and eggs and the works:


While they were cleaning up outside (I stayed in the tent lots), Michael found this little fella:


And guess what they did to it?


Terrible, just terrible my bunch of friends... hahahaha...

We were so glad the sun came up that arvo. We quickly took things out the tent to dry - literally nearly everything was wet due to flooding in everyone's tents.


Our tent was fine, except the part where Shaun slept so he had to sun his sleeping bag. The couples' tent had water go in but was saved somewhat by someone's bra. Hahaha, it helped soak up all the rain water and prevented it from flowing all the way into the tent!

There were some of us who had really healthy hair that would become oily if not washed so it was teamwork to get their hair washed!


While they were at that, Justin showcased his calligraphic talents:


Some of us decided to stay in the tent to stay away from the wetness:


When our tummies told us that it was time to eat yet again, we took out the sausages. Lucas had this ingenious idea of cooking the sausage using a banana skin. It actually worked! The sausage on the inside cooked!


There is one place I so have to tell everyone about: the compost toilet. Haha, the funniest part of our trip has to be this facility. Why? Because, as you walk up the walkway, it looks like an alright little cubicle.


But when you push the door open, wala!


Your nose will instantly pick up on the whiff of ammonia. As it is a COMPOST toilet, they collect your shit (literally) for 9 months before clearing the pit. No water so yea, go imagine. And, no lighting, so when we had to answer the call of nature at night, we had to go in pairs, with one person holding a torchlight while the other... well, you know...

Another funny incident that occurred was this:


Oh well..... someone had to forgo his Indomie. Oh, and how can we not take a group shot?


The fire for the night was a good, big one.


We had dinner like no other camper: steamboat with two flavours of soup base! We had clear soup base, as well as tomyam soup base with whatever you can think of to throw in. We even brought lemongrass and onion and tomato. There was mushroom as well... talk about good food. Imagine how good it tasted when we thought even Indomie tasted amazing in the wild.. haha!

We had a good round of spooky stories, which made me too terrified to go all the way to the toilet. And, I had my first leech bite while eating dinner. I did not even realise it was me until I saw blood on my slippers. Haha, Shaun was wondering where the fat leech came from: Okay everybody, check your feet! Someone must have gotten bitten! I was so confident that it was not me. Oh, good job, Chrys.....

As the mist crept up upon us, the surroundings felt spookier. Some other campers were using their torch lights to 'signal' us. They came nearer and we realised it was the group of Asian campers out in the front. They came over to ask us where to get firewood.

We then decided to call it a night and as we were settling in, we heard a loud fart from the other tent. Gosh.... must be the baked beans in the morning. A few minutes later, we had the signature snore from a dear friend, also from the other tent...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Anzac camping weekend (Day 1)

As the title suggests, we went camping during the long Anzac weekend. There were 10 of us in total: Justin, Xin Wen, Michael, Jona, Nic, Audrey, Shaun, Miow, Lucas and I. I figured that it would be a good fun, as I've never camped out before. In fact, I nearly backed out due to my sprained ankle. Thankfully, I did not because it was, like I said, good fun.

First stop: Shaun's place. We had to transfer things from Justin's car, from Shaun's house, to all the cars, including Jona's car. And trust me, there were HEAPS of stuff. Just take a look at the car we were in:


And that was only one of the three cars. It felt like moving house in a way.

Next stop was a makan stop at McD's. Due to some 'timing issues', we missed the McD's breakfast and had to settle for the normal stuff. Hm, as long as I get to eat the fries, I'm happy.


It did not take us long to reach the jetty at a town called:


And yes, we take ferries there. Wiseman's Ferry is a cable ferry that goes across the Hawkesbury River, helping to connect one side to the other. Like the ferries in Penang, they ferry not only passengers but also vehicles. The crossing has remained in use on its current site since 1829, making it the oldest ferry crossing still in operation in New South Wales, and possibly in Australia. How cool is that?!

Having swerved off the main road onto the gravel road, Michael was the first one to exclaim that we are totally cut off from civilisation: Ha?! No reception one here?!?!??!

Our campsites were right at the end, tucked in a corner. On the map, it said there was a creek next to us but when we got there, it looked more like a longkang. Hm.......




While we were all busy putting up the tents, or more like, they were all busy putting up the tents, one fellow was happily dragging one loaf of our bread away.... That prompted Jona to go full throttle using his parang.


This is a brush turkey and there were three of them, not just one! Okay, understood la, we are intruding your land but hey, bread is not meant for turkey consumption!

We had tents of three sizes: S, M and L. The small tent was meant for Audrey and I until we found out that it gets flooded inside when it rains! The medium tent was for the two couples and the large tent, was well, for the rest of us (was initially boys only until we two girls had nowhere else to hide from the rain). Yes, it RAINED, just like the weather forecast said it would. And boy, did it rain!

Luckily, before it poured, we managed to build ourselves a decent fire and had some marshmallows.


We even managed to cook dinner in the nick of time and when we felt the rain drops, it was SAVE THE FOOD! BRING THE LAMPS INTO THE TENT! Mayhem! We had to all go into the large tent to have dinner. Wasn't too bad considering that there were 10 of us in a 6-man tent with food and stuff.



It was only 10-ish when we decided to sleep, as there was nothing else to do to pass time. The ghost story session was a flop - no one had good stories to tell and we were all too annoyed by the rain to listen and to get engrossed anyway. We reminded each other to keep an eye out for creep crawlies, especially leeches (Xin Wen had one crawling up her leg just as she was reminding all of us: Check your legs for leeches ar..... *SCREAM*).

And look at how well-organised we were to ensure that everyone was comfy:


We dozed off into dreamland accompanied by the pitter patter of rain and leaves dropping onto our tent.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mummy

I know I have not been the best daughter but
I know that you have been the best mum

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Go, Team Ivy!

What is, or who are, Team Ivy?

Like you, I did not know of their existence until I logged into my Nuffnang account and saw an announcement there. Ivy is the name of a little girl who has a blogger for a mummy. Mummy's name is Tiffany and she would like to reciprocate the good and hard work of all the people at John Hunters Children's Hospital, as well as the nurses who have been caring for her little girl. To find out more of Ivy's experiences, look up Three Ring Circus.


Team Ivy is aiming to raise $5000 to help the hospital that cares for children in the Hunter Valley and northern New South Wales regions. They have passed the halfway mark but it does not hurt for more people to show what charitable and loving beings they are, right?

So, instead of chilling with a mug of mocha and a plate of huge sandwich, which you force yourself to finish till you can't breath properly, why not spend that 15 bucks on something more meaningful? If you can't afford to donate in monetary form, at least help spread the word to people whom you think could afford some cash to help the cause.

Thank you!

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