A Gift Exchange

When you go to someone’s event or your friend’s like a wedding, birthday party or any other event probably they give you a gift or souvenir. This souvenir is a token for you.

Many people are so creative with interesting ideas for souvenir and gift. I remembered long time ago a friend who had her wedding party gave a souvenir for each guest a little fruit plant. I think it was a brilliant idea. It gave people idea to plant a tree. It encouraged people to take care of the environment.

But most of the time, people do not really care when they give souvenirs for their programs. Many many times I brought home a mug or a glass, a folding cloth bag, folding fan, lunch box and many more.

When you get these souvenirs what do you do then with those stuff? Do you use it? Do you keep it and collect it? Do you give it to someone else? Do you donate it? Or do you throw it away?

A gift exhange

Rarely I got a souvenir that I really need it. To be honest I would be happy if I get a souvenir or a gift something I really need. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I do not care whether it is just a simple stuff or something very cheap.

I remembered a few years ago we had a gift exchange in the office. Each one had to write a gift she wanted to have and also write their names in a little folding paper. Those who got that little folding paper should prepare the gift as written inside. I wrote a little knife for cutting fruit. My colleague happily gave me that gift. I was so thankful to her. Another time I wrote to have a gift of pen refill. I also remembered a colleague wrote to have a gift for her a baby turtle. It sounds unussual, anti-mainstream. Luckily I didn’t get her request. 😊

The gifts from each one for our gift exchange recently.

I hate collecting souvenirs. They just clutter my space.

Journal of the day

My Cassava

I don’t have enough time to clean the garden from the grass. I usually ask a gardener to come for the cleaning once a month. I don’t have enough patience to do gardening actually. I don’t have enough time also to take care for my plants. So I decided to get someone to plant cassava in my little garden, thinking that I didn’t need to take care for this. Cassava is very easy to grow here. As soon as it was planted, in only a few days I saw the green new leaves coming up. I was happy looking at their new leaves. They grew so well. In a few months they grew so tall. And the grass didn’t grow around the cassava trees.

A few days ago, we had the crops. Again I asked the same gardener to unplug the trees. It was amazing to see the cassava. I thanked to the Mother Earth who grew the cassava. I cooked the cassava as my menu for a few days. I realized how much I was grateful for the Mother Earth for giving me this cassava. I just boiled it and put some salt into it. And enjoyed it. What I noticed was more on the feelings in me while I was enjoying the cooked cassava. It didn’t taste extraordinary, but the feeling was special. There was gratefulness there. I understand it is because I put so much patience and love for seven months. I didn’t take it for granted. I appreciated more.

Thanks to the mother earth!
Because I put so much patience and love into it for seven months, it tasted so good.

Many times I have left over veggies and fruits in my fridge. And I didn’t feel guilty in throwing them away. I realized that I just took it for granted. There was not much appreciation for foods I had. But for this cassava, I really took a good care, I had so much appreciation and so much love. I didn’t throw any piece away. I shared some to a colleague too. She was surprised seeing how big piece the cassava was. I was so happy when she said that she had that cassava for her breakfast one morning. she also enjoyed it.


New Year Resolution 2020

This is still January. Let me write about new year resolution. I hope it is not too late. Do you have a new year resolution? Do you write it down? Do you revisit your resolution? A resolution is basically a goal to achieve, a target. It is ussually a personal one. How much did you achieve your last year resolution? Did you evaluate as the year ended? Or did you forget your resolution as months were passing by.

I made a review on my last year resolution. I was fortunate that I wrote them in a quite detailed way, so it was doable enough, though I was too optimistic for some resolutions. I put them into several categories – career, health, finance, spirituality. I broke down each category into a list of smaller goals and what I wanted to do to achieve. Last year, I got myself introduced to the idea of living as a minimalist. And I set myself for less spending as my goal, for this I set a maximum shopping for clothes into 5 pieces only. Later I thought that it was too optimistic. I didn’t have to wait till mid year, that I had missed my target. When I shared that I had failed for this one resolution to a friend, she laughed at me and I became a little bit discouraged. Did I give up and drop my resolution? No. I knew that I had failed (gloriously), but I still kept on with the resolution, 5 new clothes only! Every time I bought a new cloth, I noted down and put it on a list with the price I paid for and also the date of the purchase. I kept that list. And I wanted to know how much I would have failed. And at the end of December 2019, do you know how many new clothes I bought in 2019? 16. A lot more than the target.

So this year I made the same categories. I learnt from last year. Now I feel I know myself better, I have a sense on how much I can keep on with my resolution of 2020. How about you?

Journal of the day

Frank and the squirrel

One morning I had a conversation with a friend. I happenedly met him on my way to the dining hall for my breakfast and he just finished his breakfast. I realized that I was so late.

Frank : Tini, what are you doing?
Me : Do you really want to know (the answer)?
Frank : Well, I am asking you for the sake of politeness
Me : I am making friend with squirrels
Frank : What? (He might not hear my answer quite clearly)
Me : I am making friend with squirrels and birds. (I tried to make it more clearly for him) Do you make friend with them too?
Frank : No! I don’t make friend with animals. (He showed disagreement on his face)

It was very clear that we were challenging to each other. Being unfriendly to each other. I thought we did it on purpose just to create an argument to challenge each other. When I shared to someone who was a real dog lover that Frank didn’t like animals, she immediately showed disagreement on her face. Very quickly I clarified “Well, we know Frank. In fact he has a very kind and gentle heart.”

When I met Frank the next morning he asked me if I saw David or not for the squirells. I showed him the video and I could see a very big smile on his face.

Sorry for not being able to upload the video here, but trust me it was really cute to capture the squirrel very closely.

Journal of the day · Reflection

Desire vs. Aim

We had a little discussion on desire. Desire is always the cause of problem in human life. It seems desire is endless. One desire is fulfilled will be followed by another desire, then another desire. It is never ending. The heart will never experience contentment when it has any desire unfulfilled.

Supposed you just bought the latest model of gadget or camera that you really wanted to have. You were very excited. But how long does the excitement last? This feeling of being fulfilled won’t last very long, because soon after that you might already have another desire to be fulfilled. The heart won’t really become full by having this temporary fulfillment. The heart is not contented. A discontented heart won’t experience fullness (peace and happiness).

It says “conquer your desire if you want to have a peaceful and contented life”. Then someone asked ‘what does life look like by not having any desire?’ Someone might say that life without having any desire would be plain and not exciting. It is not called a life.

Not having desire is not similar to not having aim. An aim of life is usually much bigger than a desire. It is more a long term goal. Having aim in life makes you enthusiastic, it makes you feel excited, it makes your life even more alive. You have something to pursue. To have aim in life is to have a goal to achieve. You need to work on it. When you can achieve it it is called an achievement not a fulfillment. The feeling is different. The energy is different.

Journal of the day

A simple lunch

A young successful businessman dropped to my friend’s house one day. He knew my friend from someone he met while he was flying with Singapore Airlines during his business trip. I didn’t know what he was told about her. It might be something very positive and interesting that he wanted to meet and know her. She was a good friend of mine, I had known her for more than 20 years.

When he dropped by, my friend was preparing her lunch; a very simple dish. My friend was a very simple person leading a simple life, but a very happy person. She was a warm-hearted person, very honest and open. Everybody enjoyed talking to her. She liked connecting people. Her friends were various from a taxi driver to a minister and a president. She was very sweet and humble. She treated everyone with kind heart. She respected everyone. I remember she called her house maid as her manager to whom she listened to. She was just a darling for everyone. She had a really beautiful personality.

So they ended up having lunch together, not in an expensive restaurant but in her house, having a very simple lunch. They were chatting and sharing. He enjoyed talking to my friend, and enjoyed the simple lunch. At the end of the conversation he said to my friend “I wished I have 10% of your happiness”.

In memory of my dearest and nearest friend, Helen Margareth Quirin.

Journal of the day · Journey · Reflection

My Resolution

I still remember when we just set in the beginning of the new year. And I remember some resolutions I made this year, professionally, spiritually and personally. I want to share with you my personal one. It is not something really serious one….on shopping. I decided to be less spending this year. I also broke them down into details. No new pair of shoes. No new bags. Maximum 5 pieces on new clothing. As a working woman, I realized that I spent on those things more than any other stuff. When I shared this resolution with a friend, she said that it was a tough resolution and she could not make it and would not make it into her resolution.

I know that it is not easy for me to keep my resolution. And now only on the fourth month of the year, I have bought a new pair of shoes and 2 new bags and more than 5 pieces of new clothes. I have broken my commitment. Should I forget my resolution and start believing it to be difficult to achieve and having a feeling of being a loser ? No. I know I have failed but I will still keep this resolution as a control and I will see how much I will have gone away from my resolution in the end of this year. I will evaluate how it will be going on. We take time to change ourself. A progress takes patience and persistence.

Journal of the day · Journey


I have been in a continuous discussion with a friend of how to declutter our stuff and belongings for the last few years. To declutter the stuff and belongings means to select all the stuff we have, which ones to be kept and which ones to give away or throw away, and keep with us only what is necessary. It sound very easy. But in reality it is not easy……at least for both of us.

It has been continuing since we knew the principle how to declutter our stuff and belongings. We both agreed with the idea and started to practice it on our own self. To declutter the stuff is to start leading a simple life. Only have less stuff and stop buying and collecting new stuff.

To declutter is not as easy as it sounds. It involves so much emotional conflict within just to answer the question ‘Do I need this stuff? Does this stuff spark joy? Or does it give me happiness?”

Look inside your wardrobe, how many clothes do you have in it? How many clothes do you frequently wear? How many clothes you haven’t worn for years and you still kept it? How many pairs of shoes do you have? How many bags do you have? Look into your book shelf, how many books you bought and you haven’t read. Probably you have many more than you really need.

Do you think you need to declutter your stuff and belongings?