(Title refers to the large number of words in this excessively long post. )
Blogging, for me, is one of those things that can become a burden; you feel lazy to do it, it seems to take a ginormous amount of effort, and you start making excuses not to do it, and thus procrastinate like hell. But usually once you start typing, then it doesn’t seem like such a task anymore and (hopefully) the writing juices will flow. (Later: Um. Looks like they overflowed this time. )
First topic on the list — ESQ. ESQ stands for Emotional and Spiritual Quotient, and it is a course/training of sorts, that I attended the weekend right after BTN ended. So that’ll be … (wait for it, my sense of time and date is kinda haywire ) the 28th and 29th of June. My mum signed us up for it, and I believe the fees were quite a fortune, but once you’ve attended one course, you become part of the Alumni and have the privilege of attending any of the other courses for free. Anyway, the one we attended was a 2-day programme, for university students, and was held at a hotel about 10 minutes away from home.
I first heard about ESQ from Mai’s old blog, (Mai is my online friend whom I’ve accidentally met once before, hehe , at another talk/programme/high tea kinda event) but didn’t really know what it was about. Even now it’s a little hard to explain the whole thing, though there’s a quote from a friend of a friend who attended it before, that I think sums it up a little bit:
After going through it, it’s like … just looking at the sky can make you cry.
Yeah, seriously. Not that the point of the course was to squeeze tears out of you, but … a lot of the “realisations”, so to speak, the things that dawned upon us, were mind-blowing, touching, and menginsafkan. They said the course wasn’t really Islam-oriented, or just for Muslims (although it happened to be that the 100+ participants were all Muslims), but I’d say most of the content takes stuff from the Qur’an and Hadeeths, and the Asma’ul Husna (99 Names of God).
tawaf-ing just like people performing Umrah and Hajj are doing; that what we’ve been searching for, (humans always say they are searching for themselves, or the meaning of life or whatever) — what they are looking for is actually … God.Some of the things I learned… were simple things, really obvious things that were probably already in our brain (statements like: God created the whole Universe, Al-Qur’an is true, and about the life of our prophets, how big the Universe is) but were not in our hearts. They emphasised that a lot — making sure that it goes in our heart, not just our mind. (This is metaphorically speaking, of course. Hence, EQ and SQ alongside IQ.) And some things were true realisations, things that I’ve never thought about before; like how the whole world, the galaxies and starts and planets, are worshipping God, all the time; how they are
A lot of camps and programmes I’ve attended before, like for school, they always try and make us cry, to make us repent and follow the right path and all that, by reminding us about our parents. Sometimes by making us imagine they’re dying, or some other similar method, along with a sappy song or video. And I have to say that this method doesn’t really work, not in the long term. But in ESQ, I cried because of Allah. They made me realise that when you miss your mum or your dad or whoever, you’re actually missing Him. Because who gave your parents the ability to love? Who gave them life? Who made them your parents? Who’s given you so much blessings all this while? Who is the one that really loves you?
(Do note that we Muslims believe in Qada’ and Qadar, which is basically accepting the fact that everything and everybody; the past, present, future, has been planned and [will be] executed by God.)
And … the other content were more like, stuff about leadership and principles and that kinda things. One topic that still sticks in my mind (or heart, heh ) is the Angel Principle. Which, in short, is remembering that the two angels on your shoulders are always there; so you don’t do good things just to get praise from other people, or so everybody will see what a good person you are, and vice-versa with bad habits. It should be because God sees you all the time, and the angels are writing everything down. A basic thing, I know, but I guess we just tend to forget or don’t … keep it at the top of our head all the time.
Another thing I like about the course were the methods they used. There ain’t no lame Powerpoint presentation here, my dear. It was all cool, professional-looking videos and the sounds… whoa. The trainer (Pak Firdaus, who was awesome too, by the way) could make his voice boom and echo (as if "God" was talking to you) by adjusting the sound system, and at some points the audio was really really loud (apparently, again, to make sure it goes into our hearts). Also, it wasn’t all talk talk talk and me yawn yawn yawn either (although I did drift away at some moments, though I blame my lack of sleep due to BTN :shakefist: ), they had lotsa games and there were these helpers (girls and guys wearing all-black ) called the ATS; for some topics there would be interactive plays or something by them first, so we’d visually and experientially learn the lesson.
Did I mention this whole thing was from Indonesia? The main trainer was Indonesian, and the founder of ESQ (Ary Ginanjar Agustian) is Indonesian too, and there were videos played, of him during his travels all over the world. One particular video that I remember was of him on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, and he showed how the bridge has special telephones because of the many many suicide cases that have happened. And then of course the video showed a few of those attempts. It was so … sad, seeing peoples’ last living moments; one man was standing with his elbows resting on the railing, head bowed down … I wonder what he was thinking about… And then he climbed over the railing… And you know what happens after that. Another person decided to jump back-first, bungee-style … except without the cord, of course. Seeing the videos gave quite an impact. (Oh, and while Googling I came across this 2003 article; good read. )
Hm, anyway. One point that my friend mentioned, when I talked to her about ESQ, was that she attended another similar course (not ESQ though) and didn’t like it because it ended up seeming kind of cult-like. She said the participants had to reveal their deepest darkest secrets to one another or something like that, and so even after the programme ended, they were like … always with the same people and talking about the same thing and … rather obsessed with it. And honestly, even during ESQ it entered my mind that this whole thing seemed like a weird cult, how there have been thousands of participants all across the globe, and there’s even this chant (okay, cheer) we have to keep doing (though it’s more of a "so they won’t fall asleep", simple physical activity during breaks), but I realised that it was okay, because everything they’re teaching is … right. (Hence, not a cult.) It’s what my religion has taught me, it’s what’s making me a better person. And unlike the other course my friend was talking about, there wasn’t really anything personal about the course, it’s not about you. And for ESQ, during each of the sessions they keep encouraging the participants to sit beside somebody you don’t know yet, apparently so that you’ll know more people and build your network, etc., but I ended up hardly remembering anybody anyway. The only people there I knew were my brother and Iman (haha. Though she attended the Saturday session only, right Iman?).
I’m gonna find some verses from the Qur’an that were along the lines of those in the course, that touched me and were just… whoa. (This one on the left was repeated a lot, and they even made it into a song with these gestures and things. ) We’ve always been told that Prophet Muhammad s.a.w‘s mukjizat is the Qur’an, (some Prophets have mukjizats; special powers, so to speak, to prove to the people that they are the true Messengers of God. Some non-followers dismissed them as witchcraft or dark magic, but truly, the power of God is so great that sometimes the only word you can think of is just that — magic) and now I completely understand what it means. Al-Qur’an is so powerful, because it’s true. It’s the words of Allah. Unchanged, untainted, untouched by anybody else. And it became clear to me, what it means to just see the world around you, and know that God exists.
I rarely blog about religion and these spiritual stuff, and I hope my non-Muslim readers won’t mind this one entry. Religion is a tough thing to talk about publicly, I’ve been through some weird experiences when talking about Islam in other forums, though my only intention was to defend what I believe in; which to me, is a responsibility. So if anybody has any questions I’d be happy to answer.
And I can’t say that ESQ changed my life around, or did anything that drastic, but it was … a good reminder. Of life and our priorities, and also of how cold it could possibly be in the UK. (The hall that we were in for those two days — was always FREEZING cold. They did note that we should wear thick clothing, and that the low temperature was for their electronic equipment or something. )
It’s the fourth week of my holidays (not including that one week of BTN), though it doesn’t feel that way at all. Time still flies by amazingly quickly! Most days lately, I’ve fallen into that holiday rut of waking up late and then being glued to the TV for hours at a time (although really, all I remember watching is Oprah, Ellen and Kids by the Dozen ), but when I have to send the bros to school in the morning, ie. I don’t sleep in, then I tend to be a little more productive throughout the day and start making stuff again.
Though, it might be just me being away from this world of handmaking things for a while, but I just realised … how much WORK, EFFORT, and TIME it takes to … do this. Do art, or crafts. Any kind of art or craft. The final product may look small or simple, but the process of making it is usually far from simple; the creator must’ve put in so much of him/herself into the creation. I think even I’ve underappreciated handmade things before this. Now I understand why some things on Etsy or wherever can be quite expensive. You can’t really put a price on somebody’s precious time and hard work.
Okay, that was an unintended tangent , but anyway, here are the stuff I’ve made:
First project on the list — a wallet for Kak Yatt, my BTN group’s facilitator. (She asked me to make one for her when she found out I made my own felt wallet. ) Took a week to complete this; the embroidery and appliques were … uh, a lot. I’ve posted it to her already, hope she likes it.These are just some in-progress photos, as well as the whiteboard drawing (a BTN activity ) that the “village scene” on the wallet was based on.
These were done maybe a month++ ago, when I was in the middle of exams still. There’s this technique called resin casting; resin is a clear liquid that’ll set and become solid, so people make pendants and other jewelry while embedding things (anything) inside it. So — I’ve never come across resin here, don’t know where to find it, but I happened to have a zillion tubes of epoxy glue (intended for my bridge model, to make fake water, but it turned out that I didn’t have enough time, plus the glue was kinda expensive and wasn’t worth using for that project), so I used the glue (which dries hard and clear as well) to embed flower beads and a bit of wire. I don’t know what the little cuboid thing is, it’s pretty useless for now, but the round disc with “Nabeelah” in it; I made for my friend. Could be a keychain or something. I took these two out of the molds before the glue completely set, and tried to smooth out the edges of the disc, which of course made it crappy. (The fracture on the other piece was also caused by trying to take the mold off too early.) The permanent bubbles are there because I mixed the glue too vigorously, I tried another time by just smoothing the two parts of the glue together and there were much less bubbles. The blue comes from food colouring, by the way. I’m gonna have to experiment a lot more with molds and mixing the glue to get nicer results.
Slight clothes alteration; I’ve blogged about this cardigan before, but I don’t really like the sleeves (makes the shoulders look boxy ) so I ripped the stitching and took them off. So now it’s … a long vest? Kindly ignore the wrinkly pants, I don’t wear them outside the house anymore anyway. Oh yea, notice my full-length mirror! (The camera. Taking the picture.) Never had a full-length mirror at home before, but now the whole door of my wardrobe is a mirror. Sidenote: I also used the mirror to mark my height on the opposite wall, and unless my measuring tape is faulty, I am now 5’1″! (Always thought I was barely 5′
tall short.) Yaaaaayyyyy! This one is NOT recent. I found this old thing when unpacking my stuff; it must’ve been the first wallet I ever made. Years and years ago. LOOK AT THOSE MESSY STITCHES! I remember the pair of jeans this was made of, though. I think the rest of it became a fringed sling bag, that I used for my tuition classes.
A pencil case made out of fabric scraps (denim was cut from my [now baggy and loose] stretchy jeans), based on this cool tutorial. Finished the whole thing in 3 hours, at night. My mum needed a new pencil case, but this one turned out a bit small for her liking, so I might make another. I really don’t have much fabric to use, though. Watch band made out of crocheted wire, with beads. I’ve never done this technique before, but it turned out alright. The watch face was a gift from my Elfish friend (more about the pressies below), just in time too, ’cause I lost my (albeit cheap and Mydin-bought) watch during ESQ. Not crafty, but just wanted to show off a game of Scrabulous on Facebook (me vs. Elf) that I won. Teehee. I seriously can’t believe BAININ is a real word. Or TENDUS. Or WHEELIER, for that matter. Oh the weird world of the English language… This game got me through my last few exam days (Further Maths, naturally ), I needed to work with letters and words instead of numbers all the time.
Let’s take a break from Stuff I Made for a bit; a few weeks ago I received a box of goodies from my friend Elf, all the way from the US! (Elf does have a real name, by the way. ) I knew she bought the gifts a long time ago (after the time I mentioned the rainbowy BONITA watch I wanted — hence the rainbow ribbon she included ), but since we both don’t trust the postal service all that much (especially for such important, precious items), she waited till this summer, when her parents and brother are visiting Malaysia. The watch face was just one of the things in the box, you can see more in the big picture. Also below are the stuff I’ve made from these new, wonderful craft supplies:
The pretty box that brightened up my
day week month! Now I understand why people get addicted to swaps, especially when the things you get can’t be found anywhere in your country. The fuzzy eyelash yarn came with a knitting pattern of a neck scarf, but the fuzziness proved to be too much for a knitting n00b like me, so I … crocheted it instead. The scarf has a little slit to tuck the other end in, but it turned out too small for a human neck (crochet does use up more yarn that knit), so here’s Teddy wearing it instead. The blue actually reminds me of Cookie Monster from Sesame Street.
This is a … rectangle, the first thing that I knitted with the size 11 needles. (I’ve knitted with satay sticks before, hehe.) See people, I can knit. And purl. And I only messed up one stitch (in the close-up), hah. I ran out of parcel string (yeah, chunky yarn is expensive so I resulted to using stationery supplies ) in the middle of binding off, and don’t really know what to do with the rectangle. If it were a square it’d be a good potholder or something. Here’s a funny thing. The packaging of the velcro tape has descriptions in English and … another language (uh, Spanish? Portuguese? I have no idea… ), and apparently the word for “tape” in that language is “cinta”, which, in Malay, means love. Kinda cool though; like tape = something that connects = love = cinta. (Uh, suddenly this reminds me of our old art classes. “Links and connections”, reading into things and interpreting the theme… )
The clear organiser, all filled up with shtuff. I used to organise my beads by colour (in a similar divided organiser like that, only it was made out of a cardboard box ), but not only was that rather impractical (eg. all the red beads look the same; if I want to pick out only the red seed beads I might confuse them with the mini pony beads), but somebody must’ve knocked the box over or something, because one time, I came back home for the weekend to find the different bead colours and types all jumbled up and randombly distributed in the compartments. :shakefist: I would’ve had a mental breakdown or something, considering the time I had spent sitting on the floor, separating all the colours and handling the teeny beads, but I just closed the box and waved the anger away. Though recently, I thought I threw the whole box of beads in the trash or something (out of rage ) when I couldn’t find it after unpacking after the move, but turns out I missed a couple of my cardboard boxes which were in the kitchen. Ah my precious beads… Uh anyway, this case is so perfect for me, it locks when closed so the stuff inside won’t get jumbled, and the inside edges are all rounded! No corners for the beads to get stuck in, yeaah!
Oh, and being able to sit on the roof! Always wanted to do that, and stare at the stars. This is a panorama of the view from my brothers’ roof (we opened the window grille one night and lied on the roof tiles for awhile ); mostly saw lights and cars. And tiny roads we didn’t know existed. Fun, until the mosquitoes came. The following are pictures of parts of our house, because Kimmy asked. There are still wires poking out of the wall (for lights or air-conditioners, but it’s either we haven’t bought them, or decided they were unnecessary), and most of the furniture are our old ones, and there are curtains to be made, but overall the house is done. I’ve gotten a lot of the things I’ve secretly wished for, like my own bathroom (although the kitchen is on the other side, so other people use this bathroom too, but whatever — still my own bathroom ) because in our old house, the bathroom I use is across the living room, so whenever I paint or do messy art stuff it’s practically a mile away to get water or to wash up… and the full-length mirror I mentioned, and a way to turn off the fan/light switch without getting up from the bed (’cause I’m lazy that way . My fan has a remote control, but the light — ngeh, still a problem. ), and a big bed, etc. Plus the kitchen is a door away from me, haha. Midnight snacks ahoy! (Hehe, kidding. Just water, really.)
My room, right after dumping the boxes in there (ie. the state of my room when I left for BTN), and now, with my new grey bed (I don’t know why I’m into the colour grey right now ) and bookshelves-that-I-don’t-use-for-books and ironing board that I brought home from my hostel room (it was probably owned by a previous housemate, but I was the only one left in the house, and if I didn’t bring it back I bet the cleaners would be more than happy to take it anyway ). The board now acts as a desk, though. And I know my room is still messy, I can’t be bothered with arranging the shelf stuff properly, or getting rid of the wires on the floor… I’m definitely not obsessive-compulsive. Major renovation #1 — adding a wall so that the first thing you see when you enter through the front door, is not the staircase. Do you like our railing design? I helped pick the leaf motif; the design in the book (…catalogue; whatever) had spiral swirls alternating with the leaves, but I’m not the biggest fan of swirls, so … out with the swirls, in with more leaves. I wasn’t too sure of the green paint my mum picked (kinda pale and pastel-y to me), but it works great with the default colours of the house, so green and cream and brown are kinda the main colours throughout.Highly-major renovation #2 — the kitchen. Which is black and cream, heh. Seriously, do you see how freaking miniscule the kitchen was before?! It starts right where my brother was standing, up to the window. And that’s it, nothing on the left. So we had it extended to the back, creating a balcony outside my room and a porch on the lowest floor. (Mhmm, apparently it’s a 2.5-storey house. I’d just say 3-storey, but I think ’cause the basement is small, only half the size of the top floors, so … 0.5 it is.) I don’t have a picture of the finished back-of-the-house, oops. But it’s basically the same, only green and with a short overhanging roof at the … edges. (Don’t pick on my improper terminology, we haven’t really learnt Architecture yet, k? )And this is a smaller thing, but a “feature” of the house was this … void, and long windows (not really windows though, ’cause you can’t open them) for the rooms around that void/hole (my room included). Basically, from the edge of the first floor, when you look down, you can see the floor below. And my mum doesn’t like that at all (*cough* fear of heights *cough*), so she had the railing taken off and the hole covered with wood. Then we put the TV cabinet on top. It’s a little weird, and to me the void is an interesting but not very practical “feature”. (Especially if there are small kids around! The original horizontal bars for the railings were another reason we had the ones surrounding the staircase replaced with the leaves design — it would be too easy for a kid to climb those bars, just like a ladder. )
Right. I know this is a long entry, but there are two tags down below, that you can skip reading if you’re lazy.
8 Things I’m passionate about
8 Things I say too often
8 Books I’ve read recently
8 Things To Do Before I Die
8 Songs I could Listen To Over and Over Again
8 Things I Learned Last Year
8 People to Tag
(Heh. You don’t have to do it, though. Tags are just for fun.)
No reason to lengthen this entry any longer than it is, so byes and take cares and toodles!
P.S. 5240 words. Not including these lines. I believe one old entry that I thought was long enough was titled “4763 words“?