Monday, December 17, 2007

6 big career mistakes and how to avoid them

This article written by Donna Brown Hogarty came from the Readers' Digest in 1999.
In it, she listed the following most common mistakes made at the workplace.
1. Having no plan- She suggested that before we go into any workplace encounter that could turn angry, we should prepare an agenda and stick to it.
2. Lacking expectations- She suggested that we should understand our employer's charter by asking relevant questions
3. Being a loner- it is important to work on relationships with colleagues in and outside our department.
4. Waffling- instead of waffling on decisions, it is essential to focus on the relevant elements.
5. Focusing too narrowly- it is essential to cultivate the ability to develop and adapt by learning a variety of widely applicable skills.
6. Covering up- instead of doing that, it is important to admit the blunder and fix it as soon as possible.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Looking Back

December 26 was the date reflected on the cover of my first diary and the reminder that I placed there was 'Procrastination is the thief of time'.
My very first entry was new year day and the last entry was 10th May four years on, which happened to be Vesak Day.
I recorded the wonderful time that I had with my friends, the ups and downs, the happy and the sad.
I was then twenty years of age, third year into my teaching career. The diary recorded my relationships with my friends and colleagues. Awakened was my longing for romance and love.

My twenty-first birthday was celebrated at a government bungalow in Labrador off Pasir Panjang, surrounded by my family, good friends and colleagues.I realised that I was deeply and hopelessly in love after all the infatuations. However, it was doomed from the start as the object of my affection had promised to marry somebody else.
The following year was a year of tremendous heartaches but I promised myself to be emotionally strong and let time help me to recover from that doomed relationship.
Three years on, my present husband who was also my colleague dated me to a show, Tora, Tora, Tora, a Japanese war film.What a romantic fellow!
My second diary began on 13th May and covered the next seven and a half years.
I was engaged at a party again at the same bungalow at Labrador Park. That eventful day saw my father storming out of my engagement, thinking that my fiance was just not good enough for me, his beloved daughter.
My best friend Susan gave birth to a pair of twin girls the year after and gradually all my good friends settled down to begin another phase of their lives.
I too settled down and it was a year of adjustment to a new phase of married life, mundane and uneventful for most of the time.
Restless me joined Friends of the Library, a group of people who love to read and exchange ideas.
Two years later, we moved from a cosy two-room flat to a spacious four-room one.
My ectopic pregnancy almost ended my life but I guess God has other plans for me. I have not learnt enough yet. The near death experience taught me to appreciate the simple things in life and the sight of sunrise at Mount Faber was indeed exhilarating that year.Christmas Eve had me baptised at Faith Methodist Church.
The next diary covered one year of my life and the book was coming apart as the pages were not well-bound.It was a year of calmness as I dedicated myself to be obedient to the Lord.
For forty days, I was sponsored by the Girl Guides Association to go to Japan on a Youth Fellowship programme. That was a recognition trip for the work that I had done to promote youth activities as a Brownie guider as well as the Chairman of Friends of the Library.I had not expected any rewards for the enjoyable and meaningful work that I did but God always has His ways.
The next diary covered the next six years of my life.
Finally,Doctor Tsakok confirmed that I was pregnant! Lynn was born in January, bringing so much joy to the family after the long wait.It was on the second December that Lynn was badly scalded before she even turned two. Hubby was indeed stricken by regrets and guilt over the accident.
Two years later and we found ourselves in Western Europe, enjoying Rome, Florence, Venice, Vienna, Innsbruck, Selzburg, Copenhagen, Cologne, Odense, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Kinderdyke, Paris, Versailles, England and Scotland.It sparked my interest in the Greek mythology and Roman history. I went on some English Proficiency courses and did both O and A levels English, scoring distinctions, B for Literature and A for GP.
Over one year of part time and six months of full time , I completed the course for the Diploma in English Studies.I enjoyed the Literature course and scored second upper in the examinations. That is also the year when I was transferred to serve in a prestigious school.
The next diary began in September in which I called out for the Lord to take away that despair that I felt.
My Dad's death was most painful.Entry for that year end was filled with bleakness and pain. However, confirmation of my second pregnancy with Sarah at the end of that year brought once again hope to me.
Sarah was the child born in April and she was that gift from God and my beloved Dad sent to give me hope once again.
Sister Soo who left for US returned to get married.
Our trip up to Cameron Highlands began a long friendship among the members of four families that last till today.
Sister came home to visit us with her new born child Jasmine just as Mum became senile and her condition worsened over the next three years till her demise. We took a trip to the States to visit Sister and her family as well as a good friend in Canada.
The last entry on 23 September reflected my realisation that I had turned forty eight and I gave thanks to the Lord for His goodness to me.

The next diary began on 20 November and ended 28 October ten years on.
Ms L, my principal passed away on 22nd December and as I attended the wake and the funeral,I found the colleagues who used to fawn on her and later left her nowhere in sight.
I assumed the Head of Department post, working under Ms K and the following year Mr L.
Four months of full- time leadership course inspired me to take up Open University to pursue my love for learning. I soon returned to church. A good friend who went up to Cameron Highlands with us passed away suddenly, while news of the demise of my good friend in Canada followed by my sister-in-law's saddened me.
I began to have strong feelings to retire.
2003 brought the SARS and 2004 Tsunami when so many innocent people died so suddenly. A bubbly colleague's succumb to liver cancer made me question what life is all about. Life is indeed fragile and unpredictable.
My hundred year old grandma too passed on, fortunately after she was reunited with the Lord. Hubby's sudden chest pain in the night scared us as we thought it might be a heart attack. Fortunately it was not.
Last year had me step down from Head of Department work and after having completed my six years of Open University, I had more time to exercise and read for pleasure and self development.
I was persuaded to continue working and put retirement on hold. However, a church friend's timely reminder to honour my promise to serve the Lord and Hubby's freak and near death accident convinced me that 2007 should be my last year working for the secular world. It is time to begin a new chapter when I can serve the Lord and others full time.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Serving with love

My church friend, Audrey has invited me to join her to take up this meaningful task of visitations.
We visited a church friend Sylvia who lived quite a distance from where we live. Silvia lives with her mum and her teenaged daughter.On the day of the visit,Silvia was on leave from her hotel job. She was happy to see us and shared with us her challenge as a mother to a teenager.It strikes a similar chord in us as we too have the same bewildering feeling of having our children who go through similar difficult time. Her own mother is already in her eighties and has been been most helpful to Sylvia who has been a widow since her daughter was eighteen months of age.
It must have been hard on both women to fend for themselves all these years.
The beginning of this meaningful endeavour was accompanied by heavy downpours, to make it most memorable for me.
Audrey and myself spent some time interacting with each other later that afternoon.
Today, I joined another group to visit some other members of the church.We started our visit to an old lady who is almost ninety years of age. She still looks hearty and healthy in spite of her age. Then we visited another member who lives with her two sons and a maid as her husband had passed away some years ago. She herself had gone through some difficult time after an operation.
After lunch, we visited an ex-pastor's mum in a hospital.The thin but sprightly old lady of ninety odd years old was happy to see us. I felt good feeding her a soft pear and giving her a light massage.
May the Lord continue to lead and guide me to be His worthy servant.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Giving yourself to others

The final choice to retire is for me to have time instead of more money.
I have enough money to live comfortably but not in extravagance.I hope to have time to serve the Lord and let Him use me to glorify His name.
Being kind to my Chinese national colleagues who hailed from China has won me good friends.
Kindness goes both ways.It is indeed more blessed to give than to receive. In giving my time to others, I have gained friendship and the sense of purposefulness.
Yesterday, I visited a young colleague who has settled down and given birth to a baby boy. I also managed to visit my good friend who is recuperating from an operation.By showing my concern for her, I hope to help to lift her spirit as she has recently undergone quite a difficult time.
Today, I called another colleague whose baby was hospitalised for urinary tract infection.Praise God for His calling.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


It was the close of a chapter when I went up on stage to receive the bouquet of flowers. It was a pleasant surprise as well when the children went on stage to present me a stalk of flower each. I was indeed touched by this show of support and love.It took me great effort to remain composed and not break into tears.
My teaching career has spanned forty long years and I do wish that I have done better, in terms of connecting better with those whom I have taught.Nevertheless, with my retirement from teaching will mean the beginning of a new chapter of my life.
I will need to exercise conscientiously to keep healthy and to live my life more meaningfully and purposefully.
I have committed myself to do visitations in my church and the other project I hope to take up is to write a booklet on why people become Christians. Hopefully, this project will glorify the Lord and inspire others to seek Him.
With more time, I hope to care more for others and share with them the love of our God.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Take comfort

A very good friend is feeling down as all kinds of misfortunes happen to her. Her husband has alzheimer disease and is placed in an institution, her mother has a stroke and she herself has two breasts removed because of cancer. Her daughter is divorced and has since moved to the States. Soon my friend will have to go for an operation to remove her ovaries, uterus etc to prevent the spread of cancer to those places.
No wonder she does not want to answer phone calls from friends and is reluctant to meet up with us, her old friends of many years.
How do we offer comfort to people like her who seem to suffer one misfortune after another?
Now, I understand why God leads me to read the Book of Job and related books based on the theme of sufferings. Why do man have to suffer?
The book 'Take comfort' -Encouraging words from second Corinthians by Bob Russell was what I found at the Church Library.
In the first chapter 'Comfort-able living', I read that the two greatest human needs met by God are forgiveness and comfort. Everyone is a sinner and needs God's peace. Suffering is a normal part of every Christian life, just as sin is. 'The sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives.' (2 Corinthians 1:5 )
The Bible teaches us from the very beginning that suffering is a natural part of every life lived in this contaminated world.
'Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.'( Job 5:7)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Stress- Paul Fitzpatrick

Are frayed nerves the main concern of the 21st Century?
According to the newspaper article, about 10 000 Japanese died of 'karoshi', which means sudden death triggered by physical or psychological symptoms of work each year.
Some of the causes of stress at work include the inability to cope with the quantity of work, role or goal ambiguity, role conflict, lack of autonomy or control, where job exceeds intellectual capacity or where work does not stretch the person's capacity.
Some suggestions on how we can cope with stress include the following:
Have good time management, have a balanced diet, strike a balanced and sound attitude to life, accept personal responsibilities for setbacks, have time to relax, have regular exercise, avoid short-term stimulants and adopt preventive measures to reduce potential causes of stress.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Living a meaningful life

I have been reading quite a lot on Retirement lately and just borrowed a book 'Age Smart' which promises to help us to discover the fountain of youth at midlife and beyond.
The book is divided into different parts. Part 1 deals with issues of the body- exercise and diet.
Part 2 deals with our mind- taking care of our brain, staying curious, and to practise optimism.
Part 3 deals with the importance of our soul- nurturing it and the importance of socialsing and having a purpose in life.
Part 4 deals with money and our job.
The book is comprehensive as it deals with the various important aspects of life that we are most concerned with.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Looking forward

At the end of this year, I will retire from my teaching career.
I'm looking forward to a new chapter of my life, having worked as a teacher for forty years.
At the same time, I'm also not without apprehension as I will be 'jobless' soon
The books at the library have been most useful as I read on how I can better prepare myself for this new phase of my life.
There will be time to relax and do all the things that I have dreamt of doing.There will be time to serve the Lord, study the Bible, exercise and pursue my interests.
I hope to be a blessing to others and spend time serving God and my fellow beings.
I will be doing quite a bit of travelling with my husband. I will visit my sister who lives in North America as well as visit a friend who resides there.
I will also go to Europe to re-visit the places that I have visited some twenty five years ago.

Friday, September 7, 2007

life is great!

Life is wonderful and great if we know how to be grateful.
Life for me has been wonderful and I just want to give thanks to all that I have been blessed with.
Praise God for making me a part of this great world.
Praise God for a wonderful family with a caring and loving husband and two wonderful daughters.
Praise God for good health
Praise God for a meaningful career
Praise God for all that He has given to me.