My Brave Heart


I am taking it all in. I am trying to make everything count just in case I never manage to go back. Every wave, every smile, every simple conversation, every quick joke thrown here and there, all are enjoyed, all are cherished. I don’t know when I will get the opportunity to do these again. With them. Here. Maybe soon. Maybe later. Maybe never.

The decision did not come easy. It was a series of long tossing and turning in bed, of writing in my journal, of seeking counsel, of meditating, of praying. When I made the decision, I did not feel happy. I felt scared and very sad. How can I do this? How can I just walk away from something so beautiful? How can I ever think of leaving?

I have no answers. Even now, when it is almost here, I am still battling with the self. I am so scared. Only a stupid person will do this, I say. But I guess being scared is good. Being scared means another opportunity to know the capacity of the self, to befriend the self, to take the self by the hand, to walk through it with the self until everything becomes alright.

I know I have been in this situation many times. Leaving. Sometimes I think there is something wrong with the self. Most of the time I think there is. Why can’t I just stay, be still, grow roots, settle? It will make my life easier once and for all.

But I know I will be doing a disservice to the self.

I cannot discount the voice within. The one that is saying just close your eyes and jump.

And all the time I am led. I always believe. I always follow that tiny voice in my head saying, “Get up. Come. Let’s start a new adventure.”

I am one emotional mess right now. There has been a permanent block in my throat the past few days. Everything makes my eyes well. I love this place, God, I love everything in this place. The birds in the morning, the many faces of the lake, the perfect weather, and the unbelievable kindness of people. What else am I looking for?

I don’t know.

Everywhere I look is begging me to stay. Heck, even the animal towels I always find shaped on my bed. I know I would also want to stay. The tears won’t be there if it is not very painful. I am breaking my own heart.

But I am one crazy person.

Because just when the roots are beginning to dig deep and anchor themselves to the earth, I surprised it by uprooting it and subjecting it to blinding brightness again.

I am trying to be brave to leave everything and walk away.

For what? I don’t know.

To where? To wherever life leads me.

I am so scared.

But I am ready.

Because Champions Wake Up Early!


Finally! After several days of failed attempt of rising early, I was able to beat my alarm clock which is supposed to rouse me at 6:30 AM. Yes, 6:30 AM! I have been such a spoiled brat lately and have been waking up at 8 AM or 9 AM because my workplace is literally just outside my door.

But after stumbling through an article of Laura Vanderkam on What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (you can also read a gist of that here), I told myself let’s give this a try. I bought her ebook and then some in Kindle and started making plans on how I can beat the morning and do more.

My usual schedule is rise at 8 (or 9, whichever feels more appropriate… I know you’re jealous), check my phones for messages with eyes still half open, try to get myself out of the bed, grab the towels, and then take a shower. I am good after a shower. I dress up, grab my stuff and is off the door. If I feel like it, I eat breakfast in any of the restaurants here or I ask for an office service (think room service… did I say I am spoiled?). Then I try to catch up on the schedule of the day, check my emails, and then work… sometimes until 10 PM. See! I deserve those late mornings.

But yeah, I am crazy and I always challenge myself. This time I wanted to beat the self and develop a new habit. I was unsuccessful the past few days. I was cursing the alarm when it goes off at 6:30 AM. I passionately ignored it and found myself waking up even later! 9:05 AM? 9:10 AM? Not good!

But I  never gave up. I still kept it at 6:30 AM since I decided the change. And today I was victorious. Hooray! *throws confetti*

So what do I plan to do with my early mornings? Well, that’s where I get stuck. Having so used to the earlier schedule, I am at a loss on what to do with the extra time. When I woke up today, I was still arguing with the self if I will snooze or just give it a try for gad’s sake. I let the superego win (only this time… I was telling it) and decided to steep some tea, something I cannot do on a regular basis in my mornings as I was always rushing to get out of the room because I am starving!

Now, the stomach is still not on alert mode.

And then I decided to blog. I find such pure, sheer joy when I write. It makes my heart sing. That’s the correct description. I am not good at it (yet) but I hope I will be. And did I say I want to challenge myself all the time? This November, I plan to do a blog post per day. Now, that’s a challenge. I know NaBloWriMo starts on October and NaNoWriMo on November (Heck… I actually just checked. I thought they both start on the same day… darn…) but who cares, I set my rules. Gulp.

Looking at how busy my first 2 or 3 weeks of November will be, I am so brave to pose this challenge to the self. But yeah, let’s bring it on.

So mornings, starting now (or as much as I can push*scold*guilt-trip*motivate myself) that’s the plan, steep some tea or any possible warm drink I have in store (it is so freaking cold here… another reason to stay in bed longer), meditate, write, smile and then do the daily grind.

Care to join me?

On Saying Goodbye


I have seen it several times the past few months I have been here in Indonesia and though I can say that I have learned how to hold back tears and control emotions, it doesn’t make it any easier. Today, I said goodbye to one of my best staff. She was crying and I was just hugging her telling her everything is going to be alright.

I almost joined in her tears but it doesn’t look good losing my composure especially when I already look terrible to begin with. It is my day off and I was lazily enjoying my bed in my pajamas and messy hair reading blogs when my phone rang. An unknown number popped out. I answered and it is her. She said she wants to say goodbye. I don’t have time to take a shower or dress up as she is outside my door. I pulled my hair in a ponytail or a semblance of it and did a quick physical check if I am wearing undergarments. No time even to wash my face. When I opened my door there she is, tears welling up in her eyes. I hugged her tightly thanking her for the wonderful service she has done and that I wish her success in all her plans in life.

As I look at her and hug her again and again, there was a slight pinch in the heart. In as much as I want to compartmentalize my life treating work as work and personal as personal, there comes a time when the merging happens without us knowing. I cannot claim that all those people who have said goodbye to try something new or to welcome new experiences are very close to my heart, but those few who were able to transcend the imaginary professional block that I have created occupy a very special space within me because they found a way to touch me dearly.

I am trying to hold back tears now as I type this but I am also joyously aware and thankful that I am allowed to feel this kind of emotion.

I know the coming and going will always be a part of life. That’s what makes it interesting. That’s what makes it worth living.

To all those ex colleagues who became special to me in one way or another, thank you for touching my heart. Thank you for allowing me to play a part in the story of your life the same way you played yours in mine.

*image credit

Traditional Batak Dishes

Yesterday, over talks on the eruption, we got hungry. A colleague asked me if I would like to try traditional Batak dishes. Batak is one of the many tribes in Indonesia and is one of the most popular in Sumatra. I actually have no preference at that particular time but at the mention of Batak, I immediately thought of Babi Panggang Karo (BPK) or grilled pork. Though Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in the world, many Bataknese are Christian due to the missionary work of Catholics and Protestants from a long time. Proof is you can find a church here every 10 km or so. No kidding.

After getting stuck in traffic for almost an hour just to get to that place which the colleague argues is serving very good Batak dishes, we arrived. The place has zero ambience. It’s like a hole-in-the-wall kind of place. No air condition. No table cloth. No fancy whatever. Just authentic food.


And these are what we got.


Saksang, according to the colleague, is a typical Batak dish cooked every time there are festivities like weddings and birthdays. This is mainly composed of chopped meat cooked in (animal’s) blood, coconut milk and spices. Saksang comes in two variations, pork meat or dog meat. Pork meat for now for me. I still cannot imagine eating dogs.


The colleague called this Kecap. Kecap actually means sauce here in Indonesia. I reckon Kecap manis with asin (sweet and salty soy sauce) with tomato sauce was used here. It tastes like adobo to me without the sour taste.


And this is my lovely Babi Panggang Karo or grilled pork. The pork doesn’t really taste anything special but this comes with a bloody sauce which gives this dish an interesting flavor. The bloody sauce tastes like Saksang actually, just spicier.


And these are the happy eaters.

As they say when in Rome, do what the Romans do. I have stopped asking for spoon and fork every time we eat out in places like this. Instead, you get a bowl of water to wash your hands with. I am no longer complaining, just embracing each and every moment of this wonderful culture that I was blessed to experience.


Looking like an authentic Indonesian here.


And that bulging stomach tells the whole story of how the lunch ended.

All In A Day

I woke up early yesterday as I need to go down to Medan and attend a meeting. Given the distance of the hills to the city, I will need about 3 to 4-hour drive with no traffic jam.

And since Sinabung erupted last Sunday, September 15, 2013, I was looking forward to taking photos of the said volcano from a different vantage point.

Sinabung was looking calm when I took this at around 8 AM.


It did not reveal any plans it has in store for the day.


And then this. (Photo from