Survival Skills #1

Within the last few years, the global economy steadily declined slowly and gradually, more people lost their jobs. Those who are generally unstable as individuals, find it hard to cope – mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They are fun lament their predicaments to me. I can see many income opportunities that they cannot. I can see many ways to create income but they cannot . So let me just tell a story.

At the age of 59, my mother was a sales promoter at Carrefour, Giant hyper market and Jaya Jusco, She sold many things including sushi, rice and DIAPERS. She worked full time standing on her feet 8 to 10 hours, 6 days a week. She earned RM800-RM1000 a month. My mother was living with hyper – para – thyroidism. It made her bones lose calcium and her body hormones imbalanced. It was very tiring and often painful but she did it. Why? Because she had dependents on home. Loved ones counting on her for food. That is me and my post stroke father.

We survived.

Beggars cannot be choosers.

Tough Love

Now and then, I have people with neurofibromatosis opening up to me. They tell me about their conditions, situations, and how they feel. Some of them have yet to undergo as many surgeries as I have and have yet to develop as many physical challenges as I have. Some others have been through more in their journey in other ways such as parental divorse and having witnessed other family members dying from NF complications.

All these timesI am being given the opportunity to learn how to empower others to empower themselves. Originally, I did not know how to do that. Like many humans, I was very tempted to save people at the expense of myself. Now I am learning to be patient, to have faith in others and trust that they too can learn to be strong. I am learning tough love.

It is not easy. I used to be afraid that other will fall and try to prevent it, because I had fallen many times and did not want my pain to happen again even on others.

What I had to realise was that, I had become strong from all the pain and falls that I went through and over came since my early childhood. I might not be as strong as I am today without these experiences.

Whenever another NF patient opens up to me, I relate to the person with empathy especially on how they feel. I would advice them to take affirmative and proactive action, and say words that guide them forward practically. In my heart, I know that the truth – this is not going to be easy for you. I don’t say that out loud of course. I know it will not be easy and I don’t want to lie by giving false assurances to people. So what I do know is that, I guide others to be firm, decisive and resolved. Come what may. Whatever that comes face it anyway with courage.

No one can make us strong. Only we can make ourselves strong.

Equal Portions

I once heard the term “equal portions” from a bishop in Africa but never checked what it meant. This year God showed it to me through my life experience unwittingly.

After having three major surgeries in US early this year, of which two were brain surgeries, I returned to Malaysia and found that many people has changed. It was partly due to the worsen economy. People who were in a limbo previously, were now worse off.

When I first came back, I felt very weak and lethargic so I had to sleep most of the day and stayed home all the time. During my time alone, I looked around my house and realized that I had many treasures stored up in this simple little house of mine. I usually overlooked them because my house was cluttered up. One day, I pulled out a drawer in my bedroom and saw many boxes of costume jewelries that I had accumulated over two decades. They were colorful and chic but I hardly wore them. I felt that keeping them to myself but took away and unused was wasteful. Plus, I was going to turn thirty years old this year. Time to grow up. So I decided to give them away. I considered who to give when a friend situation came to my mind. Her mother suffered a stroke within the last two years and became negative. My friend was unmarried and lived with both her parents. Aside from attending to her day job, my friend had to look after both her parents, shoulder the household expenses, do house chores, take her parents to medical appointments and even pay for their medical bills to an extent. My friend was having a tough time financially, emotionally and physically. That was why she came to my mind. I had also grown up with a post stroke father while my mum crumbled. I could relate with the stress so I gave my colorful collection of costume jewelries, some with deep sentimental values, a few kilograms in total. but did not tell anyone what I had done.

Few months later, a relative of mine living overseas, who had no idea what I just did, bought me a set of genuine Swarovski crystal jewelries as gifts.

God saw what I did for one of his children even when I did not expect him to see. He blessed us in equal portions. The amount of true love we give out is the amount of true love we receive in return.


Forever First Love

This is how our brains worked. When we experience something significant emotionally and a piece of music happens to play at the same time of that experience, the music would become deeply ingrained into our brains like reinforcement. The first compounded by our emotionally significant experience. It happened to me once.

In late 2013, a large group of my ex school mates had a gathering. I attended the gathering while still jet lagged from my US return flight so I rested my head on the table with my eyes opened. Another pair of wide eyes came into my field of vision suddenly, just inches away. In a split second, Lee Hom’s Forever First Day played in my mind. That pair of eyes looked like the eyes of my ex-boyfriend whom I had just ditched. Seconds later, I realized that was actually Yi Hoong staring back at me.

I did not want to reconcile with my ex-boyfriend. I was just too used to him being present in my life for almost two years.

I had no special liking for Lee Hom’s Forever First Day. It was included into the first album of his that I bought. It used to automatically play as the soundtrack loop continuously during the day. I was 15 years old when a friend introduced me to Wang Lee Hom’s music. My aunt Ivy had just died that year and my extended family tore apart over her estate. I was broken hearted. Forever First Day had a nostalgic tune both in the music and the singer’s voice. I missed happier times when aunt Ivy was alive and healthy. Forever First Day evoked emotional solitude.

Although my ex-boyfriend and I were dissimilar and I could not live with his anger issues, he was not entirely a bad suitor. Having being raised by a hostile Hakka mother myself, I did not get much physical embrace and comfort. My ex-boyfriend made that up for me.

The part of our brain which records emotional memory is called the Amygdala located at the limbic system, deep beneath the cortex. Goes to show how impactful, meaningful music can be.

Evidence Of Love

After I came back from NIH in March 2016, some people who had known me from way way back seemed to have become mentally unhinged and questioned me on my usage of funds openly, implying that I was using funds meant for my foundation project for my own needs. I found it absurd for they should know me better than that, I intended to ignore but their actions could confuse people who do not know me personally. So here I am attaching a letter from Sin Chew Foundation to me. It can show you where funds for my own treatments came from.



In early 2012, I had a health scare and thought I needed emergency treatment. Some supporters informed Sin Chew Daily. Representatives from their foundation visited and wrote a glowing feature in their newspaper. They did not paint a pretty full picture of me. They simply showed what I have done with my life. That alone was enough to generate much public support from the Chinese literate community of peninsula Malaysia. But I later found out that I did not need immediate surgery so I used this fund for my continuous treatment gradually over the next three years, from mid-2013 to mid-2016.

I am very loved by people. If I ever need funds for myself all I have to do is ASK. So I don’t need to conspire and come up with a think foundation project to get money for myself.

I only need to be honest. Honestly ask and then people will help me with my personal financial needs.