Running again 

Ran 3 miles today feeling likethe wind, though my actual speed is probably similar to a turtle’s speed. I surprised myself because I havent ran for MONTHS (did 5 minues in Tasek Lama, obvs that didnt count). And the best this year was probably a 20 minute run on the threadmills.

Much to my own amazement, I ran non stop for about 18 minutes before my lungs felt like it was gonna fail on me. And then another 10 minutes before my legs started aching. Well done, body, you have surpassed my expectations!

I dont know what happened though. I like to think all that yoga – eseh – helped with my breathing. And even though I scoffed at Adrienne (youtuber yogist), when she said the breathing and yoga poses would help with endurance, maybe she was right? 

Oh yeah, in case you havent checked out my IG/fb, on the rare occasions I said it …. I’m into yoga now. I did it 10 yrs ago and didnt get it, wasnt into it at all. Back in Brunei, I went to a small class and really enjoyed it. It was so much harder than I realise – bepaluh ani bah. Plus I love all the hippy talk. Opening up my heart. Let  the energy go through my spine.     I love it. I also like the soft way instructors talk and pretty much follows Adrienne on youtube (aptly named Yoga with Adrienne). I realise there’s different types of yoga and like how I can try different poses/classes for different mood I’m in — eg to focus on breathing, to relax, to tone up body, for more active exercise etc.

I have been off exercise for awhile because I havent found one that I really enjoy. I used to love running but dont enjoy running in the suburbs (only houses to see). I dont enjoy going to the gym because it feels monotonous – I’ve only started doing more this yr because I was desperate for an exercise. I like going to bodycombat classes but find myself too unfit and therefore, not enjoy the classes as much as before. Also I’m too lazy to go out esp in the winter! 

So where does that leave me? I wish there was netball or badminton I can join, though my skills are pretty much rusty now. So yeah, yoga is something new that I’m enjoying. 

And I do believe once you do the things that you DO enjoy, it pushes you to do other things. Get exercise one way or the other and the fitter you are, the more you will enjoy doing bigger challenges.
Anyway, my body is aching now, think it finally realised what an effort it did today. 


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How to read more books

I’ve thought long and hard on how I’ve managed to read more books this year. So here are my tips if your reading mojo is down:

1. Switch genres. 

For awhile, I was into non-fiction books especially autobiographies and social psychology kinda books. Then I was stumped and wanted some fiction books. I usually like light hearted books but have tried more thriller/drama books and actually enjoyed it! I didnt think I would like zombie books but enjoyed The Girl with All the Gifts. 

2. Read teenager-targeted books

It’s easy to finish and you’ll feel accomplished and hopefully kill your reading curse. 

3. And even kids books

I’m reading out books aimed for older kids for Zayan. Roald Dahl – I mean, its a nice throwback and reminded me of love for reading again. (Though I realise the language in some Roald Dahl books are not for the young ones!) 

4. Join a book club

I joined a facebook book club and have been encouraged to read more books. And esp books I wouldnt normally read! It’s nice to discuss about it as well after. The best thing is that we have a general deadline to start discussions but if you finish later, you can still comment on it and discuss with others.

5. Read from Kindle more

I love holding a book. Flicking pages. I do love that.

BUT I’ve learnt that majority of books I’ve read this year was from the (phone) Kindle!

It was easier to download/buy. 

I almost always have my phone with me, so when I’m bored waiting in queues or something, I can open up my kindle from phone.


Ok gotta go, 

Love me

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Books Inventory

Following a friend’s footsteps (shoutout to Kat!), I have decided to document the books I’ve read this year. I tend to forget the books I read – particularly if not very memorable. 

My main aim this year is to read one book a month. I have a feeling I read less than 10 books last year, so this is a realistic/reasonable goal for me. So I’m happy to say that I have read this year alone!

My books this year:

(read in chronological order) 

1. Fast times in Palestine by Pamela Olsen

Love, love, love this book! I have never really understood the history of Palestine and Jerusalem. So this was a good and interesting way of explaining the history and politics. It’s a true story of an American bartender who uprooted herself and landed a job as journalist in Ramallah. 

Definite recommendation. ✨✨✨✨✨

2. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

Sure I’ve written about this before. The title doesnt lie. Life changing for me! And my well- folded scarves and shirts remain well-folded and neatly arranged.


3. Another book (cos I love her hippy words so much) by Marie Kondo titled ‘Spark Joy’

Actually enjoyed the former book more.


4. The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Narrated so cleverly, I cant even begin to review this book just yet. Recommend this. Expected it to be heavy but actually an easy read and read it in 3-4 days. And I was disappointed when I finished!


5. The Whole-Brain Child

I read this ages ago and stopped because I couldnt take in all the info. I probably have only taken 2-3 points away from it but this is an informative book on how kids brain works. How to approach when they’re having tantrums. How to communicate with them esp on distressing topics. How to get them to open up.

✨✨✨ (3 stars for being too jampacked info)

✨✨✨✨(but another star for learning new info and good pictures)

6. A Year of Living Danishly

This was an alright read, some humorous topics, some bit dragged out. It does make me want to live in Denmark and apply Hygge lifestyle! I would say I agree with the danish way of living!


7. Not If I See You First

Someone once told me to read teenager-targeted books when your reading mojo is down as the books tend to be easier reads. This was an easy read and made me smile inside with the innocence of high school friendships/relationships. Also, it made me think of how blind people do sports! (Story about a blind girl runner navigating through high school and discovering athletics)


8. Romance book

Cant remember the title. Neednt bother. Too predictable and cliche. I dont recommend it.


9. Confessions of a Domestic Failure

Now I love this author! I love following her on facebook. Perhaps I was disappointed because I thought it was a non-fictional book (ie personal book about her). The story is predictable and the stories relating to main character was too cringe-y. Few hilarious spots in the book but in general, I wanted to smack the main character. Too exaggerated I feel.


10. Yasmin Mogahed’s “Reclaim Your Heart”

Broken down into short topics, so you can dip in and out of the book. Lots of nice quotes and interesting perspectives. She writes just like how she speaks! (attended two of her talks previously)


11. All the Light We Cannot See

Set in World War 2. Main character is blind. Story of how her life and another boy’s life was in WW and how their lives intersected at some point. I would not normally choose this book as thought it was bit heavy. It turned out to be a good read with beautiful, descriptive language. Didnt want the book to end! 


12. Drop the Ball

The contents all made sense. I was annoyed in large parts of the book. I then realise that it was because I have followed the points already and wondering why the author took awhile to ‘drop the ball’. 

The book is about how women in general takes it upon themselves to do EVERYTHING. Juggle career, household and kids. She is basically saying how we have to drop the ball and (1) delegate to others esp partner and (2) to let go of high expectations on everything and pick your battles. I was like ‘uhhhh yeah’ –  my husband pretty much is 50/50 – maybe even more! – on household stuff whilst I will generally take care of kids stuff. We both tag team on a daily basis.


13. Harmless Like You

Cant be bothered to give a review on this one. Depressing. 

14. All The Children

Wrote about this recently. Surprising good read. I’m not a ‘thriller/drama’ person and certainly not into the apocalypse kind but the story was plausible, gripping and un-put-down-able. Also taken from a different perspective of how mothers/maternal instincts kick in during survival mode.


15. The Handmaid’s Tale

Wow, this is such a different story. Also didnt realise how old this book is already! Will write on another time when I can digest it all. I finished reading this in less than 24 hrs. It was difficult to put down and also, it wasnt that long!


16. Good Mother Myth (half read)

I cant be bothered to finish this. But I never like not finishing my books. So maybe I’ll pick this up again on a later date. 

So those are my books this year. I’ve read 15 books! Almost twice the rate I expected myself to. A lot of 4 and 5 stars from me. Some life changing! I’m looking for more heart warming books though. And light hearted ones. 

Hopefully I’ll be able to read more in the later part of this year! 

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All the little kids that are not mine

I brought a toddler down for a scan under sedation the other day. Just like Ayman, he had chubby cheeks and has that cute curiosity/innocence that toddlers have. Toddler woke up in midst of it, totally in distress, probably confused why mummy wasnt there! Started spitting up and trashing around when we gave extra sedation. So I took him in my arms and started doing the swaying dance (you know, half jiggling, half swaying thing you do to make babies stop crying – by that I mean my babies!). He fell asleep within a few minutes and again, did the slow-put-down-onto-bed-gently-take-away-arm manouvre. As the radiographers put him in the ‘right’ position, he woke up and started crying. So I stroked his face and tried to sing ABC in my most soothing voice (as 4 radiographers looked on). He fell asleep to it. 
It was my most non-clinical part of the job that day but I think I enjoyed it most!

 But for some reason, it also made me feel wee bit sad (? giving my love to others when my sons are with someone else) so I gave extra hugs and cuddles to Ayman that day.

It reminded me of a book I just read titled ‘All the Little Children’. I’ll spare you any spoilers but basically involved two adults (who are mothers) in the woods with a bunch of children including theirs. One (main character) was made out to be work-driven, not-usually-there mum but obvs love her kids. It showed how, even though not usually of the maternal type, she extended her love and maternal instincts to the other kids. It played on the qs of: would you do things to benefit just your kids or would you sacrifice their happiness to save others? Morally we would choose to sacrifice for other lives, isnt it? But what if it meant risking your life and therefore resulting in your kids not having a mum? 

Anyway, obviously I wasnt in the woods but it reminded me on how I spend my time for other kids and leaving my kids to be taken care by others. 

I’m not a usual thriller fan but I finished this book within 2-3 days. It was a relatively easy read (as in not too heavy) but I think if made into movie, it will totally spook me! 

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On my last visit to the homeland just a week ago, that recognisable feeling of nostalgia crept in, as it often does on visits back. I guess being away makes my memories of places and people stagnant and I tend to reminisice of the good old days. Heck, the small sign outside my bedroom door “Princess sleeping” is still up there. Gone are my lie in days – this princess is definitely not sleeping these days, what with my sleep-allergic, morning-loving boys. 

I think of my friends and high school mates and think of how our lives have panned out. Certainly for many, it didnt pan out as we perhaps imagined it to be when we were 16. Loss of loved ones. Heartbreaks (and all that comes) from the loss of a long term relationship and marriage. Career changes and career losses. And perhaps just the direction of life (and certainly for me, body). Is it just me still being clueless on handling mine or other’s life big problems? I bluff my way through hoping I’ve done and said the right things.

Imagine all those times during high school and wistfully looking at the pretty girls and popular girls (oh my extrovert friends! How I wished to be them and be like them!). And being shy and certainly feeling dorky around the cute boys. And now, as I am comfortable in my own skin and happy with my self worth, think how funny it was to feel that way. 

I wonder if we wrote a letter to our 16 year old selves, what would we like to say. 

For me, it would be to not worry on looks, popularity and to relax on thinking of class ranks and exam scores (I was always wanting to be top 10 in the year but never did!). Work hard yes, but mostly work smart. And believe in yourself a little bit more. Dear young one, it took you another 16 years to finally believe this and perhaps it would save up all those tears, self doubt and self criticism.
But I guess, going through those dorky, awkward stages is a must. After all, I do believe what (and how) you went through will shape who you are.

(more of mates from after high school but just had to include this) 

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Sun, sea and sand 

Ahh, the sun and sea. 

Except it gets so hot in Brunei to fully enjoy it unless you go really early (6-7 am) or late (after 5 pm). We went at a questionable time of 10.30 am. By the time we actually set foot on the sand, it was close to 11 am. 

The kids (ie Zayan) complained of it being hot but soon forgot about it when we reached the waters. 

Closed my eyes and loved hearing the sound of the waves. It calms me yet reminded me of the strength of the sea. Lives swallowed by these ropey waters. I closed my eyes and remind myself to use it as my white noise to go to sleep (insomnia problems). If I had to describe a sound for Brunei, it would be the sound of the waves. I’m sure not everybody would agree but so much good times have been spent on the beach, and also some soul searching times back in my 20s, that it’s a good association for me.

How do waves form? The sea looks so silent and serene but when approaching the land, the waves get bigger. And even angrier. How do different beaches have different sizes of waves? It reminded me of O level Geography. Pretty sure we covered waves but could not remember for the life of me the answers to my qs. Sorry Cikgu Zainal, I should have listened to you more.

The beach was almost empty. There were 2-3 groups of families at the huts/BBQ area but only a lonesome orang puteh (assuming this as the figure was taller than your average Bruneian and was only in some really short shorts. Also no average Bruneian would be fishing at 11 am by oneself, fully exposed to the unforgiving sun at the no-shades beach). It was nice actually that it was almost empty. The kids were running around like crazy. Vast area of land, running barefoot with your feet getting wet. Playing with the waves in the classic ‘run away before the wave gets you’ game. 

I have a love-hate relationship with the beach. Love the concept of it – one with nature and all that. But I dont like sandy wet feet with sandy wet trousers. Today though, seeing the smiles on their faces, it was well worth it. 

Almost empty beach all to ourselves. 

Ahh, to be young and free. 

Love, me

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Athens and the Orange House project

So, in case you didn’t know, I went away to Athens last weekend with my friend and her little girl. It was the first time I went away on holiday sans husband and kids. I realised, as I boarded the plane, that it was the first time I boarded a plane (not Royal Brunei/going back home) without any accompaniment. A few airport officials looked behind me -on several occasions – and asked if there was anyone else with me. Errr, no?

So anyway, how was it you ask? Greece has been absolutely lovely – laidback culture, friendly people, mediterranean food and culture (I like) and the weather was good! Hello sunnies, I can now utilise you! *looks out at the grey skies of England* It was also relatively cheap compared to travelling around other parts of Europe!! 

What I wanted to talk about though is my visit to Orange House project. It is a centre which houses refugee women and children (can accomodate about 20) and also has an ‘open kitchen’ principle everyday — about 60 people will be eating there daily (outside Ramadan month). 

I came across their website before coming over and was intrigued. They called for direct donations (money or items) and so, I asked if I could bring something over from UK. They were more in need of fresh groceries – which is no surprise as they are feeding lots of people on daily basis!

I went over to the house (which is basically a building with multiple levels – two levels I think and also rooftop garden), which is in the middle of the city — a bit further from the touristy areas. Only cost me 5 euros from hotel/central area. 

I learnt more about the Orange House Project from the founder/volunteers. Marina, one of the founders, said she wanted to do something and house the refugees… so she has asked around other organisations who is helping out with the rent and bills. Everything is voluntary based/from donations. 

There is a communal area (see below) and living quarters. The living quarters consist of rooms (with bunk beds) communal bathroom and kitchen. It basically reminds me of uni dorms. There is also a small computer room – think old stlye computers (also donated) yang sebagak basar that we left in the 90s. 

With Marina (French-Greek) and Hasan (Syrian-Greek) – these two cemented my knowledge that Greek people are friendly!

They also do classes for the refugees, either those who lives there or any refugee who is interested. Many are language classes but they also have yoga and guitar classes — which I thought was sweet, mau jua beriadah kan, after all they’ve been through. One of the things they ask of the women who lives there is that they have to do 5 classes a week, be it something sporty or language. They also help with looking for jobs and filling in CVs. And also just simple things like finding volunteers to give haircut to the refugees. I just love the ethos and principles of the project.

What also astounds me is that the volunteers/founders have full time jobs too!! 

I went to the wholesale supermarket and we bought loooaaadsss of stuff, hopefully that will last for a week or two? Hasan, one of the volunteers, said Ramadan is covered at least. Part of me was sad because there was a lot of thought on what to buy and how much it would cost. He asked if I was ok to buy some food stuff for the kids (ie biscuits). Of course!! What a contrast to our weekly family grocery shopping – alhamdulillah, since graduating from medical school, I have never had to think hard whether to buy something or not from the supermarkets because it’s expensive and not a necessity. I would buy the kids snacks unthinkingly and would only refuse if we had too many sweet/chocolatey stuff already. It just brings things to perspective really. 

Playing tetris with the groceries – how to fit it all in a small hatchback!

I met some of the women there but didnt have much time to talk for long. I did play with the kids there, who are so sweet – though I must say, they play a mean game of Uno! I lost twice to 7-8 year old girls 😥😥 

InshaAllah, I can come back again to Athens and hopefully pay a visit to Orange House project as well. 

My sharing this is hopefully not to be riya (show off) but to inspire others to find ways to spread our kindness and wealth. I came across this crowdfunding website awhile ago of a 10 yr old boy  from UK, who wanted to give something to refugees. He felt so sad seeing and hearing about the refugee crisis. He raised some money and bought a whole load of heavy blankets and winter stuff to be distributed at refugee camps. His parents actually flew with him and they drove to Turkey’s borders to distribute the stuff. He also bought some toys/balls because he wanted something to cheer up the kids. I thought if this ten year old kid had the guts and energy to do this and is proactively doing something, why can’t I?

The mural in the courtyard – writing means ‘Hope’.

Lotsa love,


PS Thanks to those who donated for the groceries as well! 

PPS Another post on Athens itself to come! 

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