Annual Wrapping Activity

No this is not about wrapping presents. Every year we have to spend a few days wrapping text books.

I am thankful to the government for providing loan textbooks for all primary and secondary pupils. Daryl is actually in the first batch of kids to use the KSSR program. And this means he gets to use brand new textbooks every year.

The books are meant to be used for five years. Caleb is in the second batch so it’s not too bad, he uses one year old books.

I wrap books really slowly. I can spend half an hour wrapping just one book because I make sure it’s wrapped well. So in one night I can only wrap four books before I lose the ability to focus.

At the end of the year, we need to return the text books. If the text book is in a bad condition we need to pay money to purchase a brand new book for the school. The teacher will judge a book to be bad condition if they don’t think it will last the whole five years.

This year there is a delay in text book returns and distribution due to the MCO. There is a step-by-step process where past year students have to return text books before distributing to the incoming year students.

So until today Rachel has not received her Form One textbooks.

Start of Online School Year 2021

Last week we suddenly heard the news that online classes would begin on 20 January 2021. We were expecting the start of the school year to be delayed until the MCO is over.

Here we are again in another round of Movement Control Order (MCO). But to be honest it doesn’t feel much different from CMCO because it seems so many businesses and offices are allowed to operate.

This time it’s not like the first MCO where we couldn’t even get our cars repaired at the mechanic.

While discussing all the school schedules, we had the worst realization that all three of our kids are in the same morning session.

Last year we only had one desktop PC. Initially we had to use all our mobile phones for them to attend Zoom classes. We had no choice but to purchase a laptop. Caleb was in afternoon session, so one desktop and one laptop were enough to cater for all of their lessons.

This year, all three of them will be having online classes simultaneously. My idea was to get a device with a bigger screen, but not cost as much as a laptop.

So reluctantly I had to go and purchase a new tablet. Thankfully telecommunication stores are allowed to open during this MCO.

Last time when we buy devices, we get free casing or free power bank. Now they give free face mask haha.

Primary school gave instruction for students to wear school uniform for online classes. We haven’t bought new uniforms for the boys yet… and they’ve grown so much in the past year. So probably they can only wear the school shirt and not the pants! Hope teacher won’t ask them to stand up.

The Year That Was 2020

Christmas 2020 family photo

Blessed Christmas to everyone who read this. In all our celebration with food and presents, let’s remember the reason for Christmas is the gift of Jesus.

I write this blog post as I reflect on the year 2020. The year started off pretty normal. In the first quarter, our family was busy trying to get our new house ready.

Nightfall

Then the economy came to a halt in Malaysia and Australia.

I work for an Australian company, so anything that happens to Australia has a direct impact to my rice bowl. In the second quarter, we received news of some colleagues being retrenched, including some of my team members. The rest of us who were left would have to take a pay cut.

I was hurt and felt betrayed. It felt so painful that I was losing my friends in the company. I was being pushed off the ledge, with only a single life rope holding me from crashing down. And a knife was slowly cutting the rope.

I just bought a house. What if I couldn’t pay for the loan? What if I lost my job? How do I feed my family?

I went into depression. I cut off contact with everyone. I didn’t want to meet anyone or talk to anyone. I felt like such a failure in life.

I stopped looking at social media. I just couldn’t stand to see anyone else happy. I see people enjoying their lockdown by doing hobbies or relaxing. It made me so furious.

I had to escape. I decided to find a stable job.

No success, zero interviews for months.

My lowest point was when we were allowed to go back to the office. Can you imagine going to work in an empty office. I had to sit there looking at the empty desks of my friends who were made redundant. Eating lunch alone.

Then they asked me to dismantle some of the servers and redundant hardware in the office. We just didn’t need them any more because there were so few staff. Turning them off was like switching off life support and watching somebody die.

I pushed myself to update my skills. I spent hours in the evening and on weekends learning and practicing new skills.

I was looking at the job websites daily. Still no opportunities came by.

Dawn

Then, one day I received an email. A MLM company was looking for a developer. Since I spent 15 years at my first company Elken, I seemed like a good match for the role.

I deleted the email.

Because I no longer had confidence. Because I didn’t want to get another rejection. But that night I couldn’t stop thinking about the offer. Poey Chin told me there’s no harm trying. The next morning, I retrieved the email from my trash bin, and replied.

Went through the interviews and everything seemed to align. The job scope was great. The company and products were great. Most important for me, I found out that the company was in a growth stage. This gave me the assurance I needed!

The offer letter came and I was offered an increment compared to my previous salary. I accepted on the spot.

I felt sad leaving my previous job, there are so many great people there. I just couldn’t survive with an uncertain future. I wish that company all the best and I am rooting for their success.

Daybreak

I have been in the new company for over a month now. I am so excited to say that I’ve found a new happy home. There is so much sharing, generosity and joy from my boss and colleagues.

The difference is like night and day.

I am incredibly grateful for this new job. They have given me so much more than they will ever know.

I owe so much to everyone who have taught me when I was younger, and were willing to help me through the interview process.

It’s really strange how the year turned out.

I went through my lowest point, only for things to turn better than I could have ever imagined. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, only to find something even better. I thought I’ve left the MLM industry behind me, but in the end those experiences helped me in my time of need.

Lessons Learned

#1. Be conscious of the tendency to compare on social media

Everyone only post good news or the best things on social media. Unconsciously you will compare yourself to them, and it makes you unhappy (or less satisfied) with what you have.

I’m not saying you cannot use social media. But keep this effect in mind.

#2. Watch out for ‘golden handcuffs’

Golden handcuffs are when you have benefits at your current company such as good salary or benefits. When you look for a job at other companies, you cannot find the same benefits. At the same time, you find your skills are no longer up to date. So you are stuck at the current company.

The way to prevent this is to always keep upgrading your skills. Always keep up to date so you have more options if you ever need to find another job. Never be content and sit there thinking you’re ok.

The company can change their strategy and plans any time. You are just a “resource” that can be replaced any time. You have more options when you have more skills.

#3. It doesn’t take much time to learn new things

This year I’ve tried taking courses in psychology. I tried meditation. I learned so many tech skills. I learned Italian.

Probably I got a bit less time for afternoon naps. Probably I watched less TV series. But I found the time to get so many new skills and I’m hungry to learn more.

#4. There is always someone worse off than you

It was easy for me to pity myself but I realise I still have a better life compared to others.

So even in my time of desperation I have learned to give, to donate to those who are in need. I have given through my church but I’ve also learned to help out the local businesses that are finding it hard to survive.

Conclusion

Ok that’s all for now. Wish all of you a Happy New Year. Hope it’s a brighter 2021 for everyone.