AUT Writers’ Retreat Day 1

This year, I’ve been very fortunate to be able given a space in the Writers Retreat at Long Bay.

Here are some reflections of Day 1:

You’re not alone.
Ever wonder why you’re struggling so much with your journey and whether it’s really just you? Well, I’ve talked to a few people and they are as slow as I am. They all talked about being carried away with work and life and no time to study. Sounds familiar?

Some people even encounter with terrible things such as their supervisor passed away… who would have thought.

Get tips and tricks

  • Use a time-keeping app (Focus Keeper)
  • Free write. Don’t get it right, get it written.
  • Write as if you’re telling a friend
  • Plan your writing, in the discipline of time, as well as in the discipline of length
  • Know yourself: maximize your productivity during the hours that work for you. In other hours, do something else
  • Trick yourself: do easy tasks, write just about anything…

Write for the ones who read it
The examiners are all who matter. Of course, you’ll want everyone to read your thesis; however, the examiners are the first to pass.

Cultivate that habit to write
This is everybody’s problem. So… trick yourself! If you have to, con yourself into writing using different tips and tricks.

Personally, I think self-discipline is key!

Get rid of the attractions
Emails, phones, messages… turn them off.
I’ve gone extra lengths to block myself out of social media, online shopping sites, and even the work website. Until… I had to actually be able to view Youtube videos for writing and I couldn’t. And I do actually need to use the work website for a work email and couldn’t as well.

You will also underestimate the amount of writing you have to do
I’ve experienced this myself and I’ve heard from people now. Writing time doesn’t mean you will sit down and start writing. It involves getting into the momentum through reading, thinking, conducting a few rituals. Not surprisingly, to some people checking social media and making sure they’ve got on top of everything is part of the ritual. For me, it’s about actually putting my head into thinking what I want to say through my writing.

Remind to self: writing time DOES include editing and proof-reading, multiple times. And time is not always on our side.

Sometimes you have to trust the journey
One of the goals that I set for myself is finishing the Methodology chapter (currently at 7k over 10k word counts). However, I was so struggling with identifying exactly what my methodology is.

Had a chat with Jennie over dinner and told her about my struggles. She suggested me completing the analyses, and trust that the methodology will rise up from the work. She said: sometimes you will have to trust the process.

I remember vividly Helen had said this to me, on multiple occasions, but it hasn’t really sunk until now that I’m actually getting into it.

What I’ve done today:

  • Consolidated the word counts, currently at 25k over 35k – 40k mark
  • Read more articles and publications on methodology. I think now that I’ve got a hang of how the methodology can come together. As I was reading, I have also added key points to my drafts.
  • Have made a decision that I’ll ditch 2 analyses that I had picked. So I had a look around and have decided on what will be the replacements.
  • Got myself into some work stuff and wasn’t pleased about the lost time…


This post is for Glenn

Glenn is a technician at Te Papa Museum who was mending the support desk when I came to him asking for help.

So I was scheduled to give a presentation at a conference this morning at 11.45AM. Thanks to my awesome time management (??!!), I only managed to pull the presentation slides and script ready by 2AM the previous night.

When I checked in with the conference organiser, she told me to come to the Speakers’ Prep Room during morning tea and someone would sort me out.

So there I was, coming to the Speakers’ Prep Room at 10.45AM, merely an hour before I was due to go to the stage. There, I found Glenn.

I asked if he could load the presentation slides for me and while saying that, I’ve also prepared myself that okay if he says it’s too late, it’s fine. I’m just going to bring up my laptop and roll with it.

To my surprise, he said “Of course” with a very very very big smile.

Then my slides were uploaded, I tested them, feeling happy. Then I asked: do you know if there’s any printer around that I can print my script?

He said there are printers but the fastest thing to do is he will have to print it for me, and it will take about 15 – 20 minutes. And he asked me to come back, just before coming up to the stage and collect my print-out there.

And I thought, hmmmm, that sounds a bit risky. What if he forgets to print out for me then, do I have to wait then? What if when I come back, he’s not there anymore, who am I going to ask. Etc and Etc.

So I say: I can wait if that’s alright with you.

He hesitated a little, probably evaluating how important it is to print stuff for this random person compared to perhaps a million other things that he’s supposed to do now. Right at that point, 2 men walked in and asked him about their presentations.

I sat down on the bench and just waited for them. Fortunately, their questions were answered very quickly. Glenn then stood up and said: alright now i’m going to print this for you. It’s gonna take 15 – 20 minutes. And he ran away.

So I waited and waited. The nerves must have been kicking in that I started to feel impatient and anxious. I stood up and started walking up and down the room. The clock now shows 11.15AM, then 11.20AM. I’m thinking: hmm what if he gets caught up with other things on the way. And I waited and waited. I heard footsteps running up and down and I wanted to rush out to see if it’s Glenn coming back. But then I thought: Be cool, be cool. It’s okay. Don’t show your nervousness! The footsteps come again, but it wasn’t him! I tied up my hair. Checked myself in the mirror. Touched up my lipsticks. Smiled to myself in the mirror. Turned left and right and see how I looked like. Pulled my sleeves, adjusted my shirt. I sat down again, thinking: when is he going to come back!!!

Finally, Glenn appeared and he rushed in, panting, handing me the papers and jokingly said: HEY! Wake up, don’t fall asleep.

We laughed it off and I said: wow the printers are so far away eh?!

He said: You know it’s one of those things that you have to go through. Plus this is Te Papa, you have to go here, and there, pass this and through that. I have to use two passwords and ask someone to check me in. Well….

Then at that point, I realised … Glenn was a stranger to me a couple of minutes ago. I asked him to do me a favour that he could easily just decline to help. I wouldn’t even mind if he did. Instead, he helped me, ran around and jumped through a few hoops to help me print some papers that I totally can live without. He was neither being difficult nor being challenging about the whole thing. He did just help me and didn’t probably realise that gesture had given me so much confidence and a little peace of mind.

Reflecting back, this experience has grounded me and reminded me to always be helpful to our customers or clients, or just anyone in need.

Thank you Glenn of Te Papa!

How the Mad Men lost the plot and about digital

about the dream last night


To see a crab in your dream signifies you perseverance and tenacity. On an extreme note, you maybe be too clingy and dependant. You are hanging on to a hopeless endeavor or relationship. Alternatively, the dream may indicate that you are trying to avoid some issue. You are being evasive. Crabs are also symbolic of your irritable personality, as in the pun, being “crabby”.

To dream that you feel fear indicates that your achievements will not be as successful as you had anticipated. You are experiencing anxieties in various aspects of your life. The key to overcoming your fear is to discuss them and deal with them openly. To dream that you worse fears are coming true signifies your resistance to change. You are afraid to confront the unknown aspects of yourself.

To dream that you are in the bathroom, relates to your instinctual urges. You may be experiencing some burdens/feelings and need to “relieve yourself”. Alternatively, a bathroom symbolizes purification and self-renewal. You need to cleanse yourself, both emotionally and psychologically.

To see or to be in a bathtub in your dream suggests a need for self-renewal and escape from everyday problems. You need to rid yourself of the burdens that you have been carrying. Alternatively, it indicates your mood for love and pursuit of pleasure and relaxation.

To dream that you are eating alone signifies loss, loneliness, and depression. You may feel rejected, excluded, and cut off from social/family ties. Eating may be a replacement for companionship and provide a form of comfort. Alternatively, eating alone reflects independent needs. Also consider the phrase, “what’s eating you up?” in reference to anxiety that you may be feeling.
To dream that you are eating with others signifies harmony, intimacy, merriness, prosperous undertakings, personal gain, and/or joyous spirits.
Food can represent love, friendship, ambition, sex or pleasure in your life. Thus, food is a metaphor to fulfill and gratify your hunger for love and desires.

To see food in your dream represents physical and emotional nourishment and energies. The different types of food can symbolize a wide range of things. Generally, fruit is symbolic of sensuality, meat represents animalistic desires, and vegetables pertain to healthy pursuits. Frozen foods may refer to your cold emotions and frigid ways. Eating certain foods also refer to qualities that you need to incorporate within your own self.

Thu 2nd Nov, 2017 – International Project Management Day

Throwback to when I was an #agencylife Digital Producer. This is a day to remind myself a couple of things I learnt from being a project manager.

  1. Be so organised that nothing falls through the crack. Check once, check twice, check thrice, get someone else to check.
  2. Stay on top of what’s going on.
  3. Eyes on the prize, never lose sight of the finishing line.
  4. Take initiatives, make things easier for everybody (tiny little things count)
  5. Have a good understanding of the stakeholders involved: who’s making decisions, who needs to be informed, who has to provide inputs…
  6. Be clear about budget, timeline, resources and the project goals
  7. Ask questions.
  8. Sell the client’s dreams and sell the team’s efforts.
  9. The team is what you have. Work with them. Look after them. If someone has a problem, hear them out.
  10. Be frank about a problem. But think of a solution/suggestion before communicating the problem.
  11. Overcommunicate: verbally and in writing.
  12. Meetings: always have an agenda. Always be clear about who’s doing what after the meeting.
  13. Time is money. Don’t waste yours, don’t waste others.
  14. The best way to
    illustrate an idea or explain something is with drawings and/or numbers.
  15. Again, be organised.
  16. Try not to eat at your desk – it doesn’t solve anything.

BONUS: Get the team to go out for lunch or drinks together as often as you can. It helps release tension and stress.

Happy day to all PMs.

disengage to engage

I came up with the title ‘disengage to engage’ as I wanted to talk about how people don’t realise that they can’t engage someone if that someone doesn’t want to, or not in the mood to be engaged. Depends on each individual, people might need to engage people with different methods.

For me, if I’m not in the mood for anything, please just don’t bother. Give me some time to finish whatever I’m doing and I’ll give you my all undivided attention.

What usually didn’t work was:

  • The person thought I wasn’t OK so he/she started asking questions like How are you doing? Are you alright? Do you want to talk about anything? Can I help you with anything? Hmmm yea, help me with giving me a break.
  • The person starts to go around the busy, so he/she will start asking questions around the topic he/she wants to get to. Eg (This is really just an example): Can you pass me the pepper? Later. Hmmm, how about the salt? And the sugar? *facepalm

Funnily, when I did a quick google on disengage / engage, most of the results on the first page of Google search is about dog training 😐😐😐

to experience special moments, you have to participate

This morning I turned up at my yoga class to see all of my yoga instructors whose classes I had taken before also showed up. That never happened before.

Turns out, this is a group of yoga instructors who used to take the same class or training somewhere, and the became really good friends. They took turns to give yoga classes at the university that I am attending but left one after one due to various reasons. They never made any references to each other, which explains my surprise to see them gather up and look so happy!

Those who left surprisingly still remember me. First, Sofia said Hi to me in the toilet. Then, Nathan gave me a big hug. And, Helen nearly screamed and gave me a hug. Suddenly, all my favourite yoga people happen at the same time, in the same place.

We all went to the class together. Taking a yoga class with professional yogis was kind of bizarre. At the same time, it felt so quite special. Perhaps, special as in one second, I become this little student, the Jenny that all the instructors know.

As usual, my mind didn’t stay still during shavasana and it played out an alternative scenario.

What if I never talked to anyone? What if I never cracked a conversation and just did my thing, came to the class and left, just like that? I might have saved so much time chit chatting and socialising (technically). In fact, I would have saved time and emotional energy this morning. I would be saving time not having to write about this thing right now!

However, I would not know that Sophia is German, Helen used to do marketing and is now doing yoga full time. I would not know that Helen’s son is Michael and she’s getting Michael and her husband to do yoga together. I would not know that Nathan is a fan of All Blacks, or he used to live and work in Australia!

And I would not have this warm and fuzzy feeling from being welcome this morning. It was a short moment, but indeed a very happy and special one.

I attribute this to the fact that people had participated in making social connections. At any point of time, any one of us could have decided they didn’t have to know who the other people are. But we all made an effort to talk, discover, remember, and catch up. All of that could have led to nothing, or it could spark a special reunion.

And I reckon, sometimes, little efforts can give you an experience that is so unique and unexpected that you would not otherwise have it if you don’t play a part.

Picture: It is another special moment when I was waiting at a bus stop and in front of me are two buildings. One corporate-looking filled with office lights that represent a fast pace, modern, energetic, competitive, stressful working environment. And the other one, a museum with no light, heritage, ageing, sleeping peacefully. It gives me an image of a young guy watching over his sleeping grandpa. To me, it’s iconically a generational representation of a buzzing* city.

(* compared to other cities in the country)

Get down.

I call today the #WorldClumsiestDay.

Q and I were crossing a street on our way to work where I noticed a massive billboard on the other end. So I looked at them commenting about some random thing that I can’t even remember now. Q was stuffing his mouth with a sandwich. A breakfast sandwich! Then I had this funny feeling about my feet. In a split second (while was I was blabbing about the billboard) I thought shit something’s weird is going to happen. In the next split second, my right feet started to get into this sliding feeling on the right edge of the shoe. My left feet subconsciously reacted to it and started to slightly slide to the left.

I didn’t mention, I was holding Q’s left hand. The sandwich was in Q’s right hand. His attention was obviously all on the sandwich, just as always. Food is a priority.

So I thought, man what is going on with my feet. They didn’t feel like MY feet. They were already disconnected from my brain. One second later, I lost control of my balance. And both legs start to mess up. And the feet slipped small steps, big steps, small steps, big steps. Time seemed to freeze at the moment and I remember thinking this is not good, but when will the slipping stop. The next thing I know, my bum was on the floor. My legs crossed. Jenny was down. My face faced 3 cars in front of me, and 3 other cars stopping diagonally on the other side. This is so embarrassing.

I heard Q cried out: OIIIII are you okay? His left hand clutched to my right arm, sandwich still in the other hand. My conscious turned to my arm being clutched and his voice. I thought do i look like OK? This is not OK. Typical people asking other people who are not OK if they are OK. ARGGGGGGHHHH.

Then I thought about my ‘audience’, drivers and passengers of the cars in front of me. Let’s not give them any more joy from witnessing this once-in-a-lifetime embarrassment of Jenny’s. Let’s pretend I’m cool enough to laugh at myself and my own adversity. Actually, I found the incident quite funny too. So I laughed about it, slowly got up. Q still clutching my hand, bread in his mouth mumbling something, looking very concerned. I said it’s alright, it doesn’t hurt. And we started to make a move from the accident area.

The green light has changed to the red one, flickering, sounding beep beep beep.

As we were running toward the other side, the wind! Argh the wind! Why was it so heavy this morning. It blew my hair in 360 degrees all directions. And my shoulder-length fringe was getting into my eyes. Talking about things happening at the right time, at the right place, NOT! I shook my head left and right, struggling to get the hair out, still smiling by the way. I’m sure I looked like a crazy cat having the time of my life on the street.

Finally, we reached the other side of the street. OMG. This better end right now. Mayhem!

Anyway, this is the closest .gif of my struggle this morning.


Not a very smooth start to the day. But that’s not all though.

I reached the office, went to the bathroom to straighten myself up and shake the embarrassment off. I pulled out the bb cream bottle to do some touch-ups. Slipped my hand and the bb cream bottom dropped to the floor. Ok no big deal.

Then I went to the kitchen to make breakfast. Dropped half of my avocado on the kitchen floor. Clumsiness got the better of me, both within 5 minutes.

Went out for a coffee with colleagues, I also accidentally pushed a tall chair to the floor. Man something’s got to me today.

Back to the office, at some point, I AGAIN!!! dropped my orange onto the kitchen floor!

May today also be known as #WorldFloorDay too.

a haiku about being late for food

Today we eat noodle
Why does it take so long?
It’s all ‘cos of Jenny.


I haven’t made much progress with my thesis recently.

Telling myself not to stress out. Then feeling guilty because I’m not stressed out. Then stressing out because I’m feeling guilty.