Restart, Renew, Refresh…

As you can see, my blog got a facelift. I was getting quite sick and tired of the old visual. Wanted something contemporary. Something clean and neat. And hence, this new look.

Anyway, besides the new look, I am looking forward to a couple of things. I have some plans in mind for 2015. That’s just 2.5 months away. I like starting new projects and I love writing goals down. It’s not for everyone but it’s definitely me.

One of my plans is to write a book – and as of this moment, the draft is done.

I was super pleased I completed the draft. It’s still quite raw and I know I will find things to add or edit or subtract when I go through it again next week. However, I am pleased that I have done what I have always set out to do – write a freaking book. Funnily, it’s easier for me to write a non-fiction piece than fiction. I always thought my first book would be a novel. So much for a 9 year old’s dreams.

The other plan is that I am going to write many books after this book goes to print. I still have not decided if I want to self-publish or to pitch it to some book publisher. We will see.

My next plan is to make Soup Queen more visible. I started Soup Queen the blog in 2006 on a whim because I enjoyed drinking soups. I still remembered talking about this to Nic when we were still residing in our old apartment in Bukit Gambir. I didn’t have any idea how this would turn out but I just wanted to document soup recipes.

Little did I know that I’d garner followers who appreciated the fact that I wrote about soups, herbs and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Whenever I look at my blog stats, I am totally surprised at the number of people who visit my blog daily.

It’s crazy! But I am also humbled that my little blog with its 203 blog entries has had 400K visitors to date. I don’t blog very much over there but there you go.

So I am planning a little something for 2015 for Soup Queen.

What started as a hobby blog may be just the thing I need to kickstart something in 2015. And I hope you will support my little gig when that happens.

A friend asked me the other day on WhatsApp how things are going. You know, if you ask anyone who runs a business, you will get either of these two answers: either they’re busy or they’re busy.

Haha. I know. Not a surprise there. If you run your own business and you are directly involved (unless you run a franchised business or consider yourself an investor in other people’s business), you will be busy. There are no non-busy days.

Every day is a busy day because every day I work on improving the business (I don’t know about other people but every day is about business or thinking about business). Even on days when I don’t have stuff to do, I am planning stuff.

When I say I don’t have stuff to do, it probably means I don’t have writing work. Then again, as a copywriter, I either write for clients or I write for our business. Writing for clients means writing copy for their websites. When I write for our business, I write blog posts, I write FB updates (or schedule a bunch of them) or I oversee the work that others have done (most times, I have to go through and edit stuff and when it comes to stuff like this, I have an eagle eye).

Or I am tweaking our own website, checking what else we can improve in terms of message and clarity. Or I am reading up marketing stuff or listening to marketing podcasts. The lines are quite blurred when you run a business of your own. And now that we organise our own events, I keep an eye out for venues, people I can invite and such.

Still, I am not always online. I have a friend who is always tapping away on her smartphone. She can be an annoyance at meal times. She never fails to “check in” or she is always grabbing friends around her to do “selfies”. Another friend can never stop taking photos of her food. I do take photos of my food, discreetly of course but only when it makes sense to share.

I don’t “check in” all the time because I treasure private moments. The conversations are far more important than telling the world on FB that I am at this restaurant or eating this dish. Both these friends are not Gen Y for your information. They’re as much Gen X as I am but they sure revel in attention wherever they go.

My women entrepreneur group AGM is coming up at the end of this month. As the chairperson for the past 2 years, I hope that someone takes the lead and becomes the chairperson when we start nominations and voting. Leadership is a funny thing. I never started this group so that I could be the chairperson. Neither did my friend, Jo. We both just wanted a group of women in businesses to meet and support each other’s endeavours.

Look how that idea turned out.

Being a chairperson is challenging. Being a chairperson of a just blossoming group of 65 members is undeniably so. We’re creating rules and regulations as we go along. I jokingly tell my Assistant Secretary that it would have been so much easier to just join an NGO rather than start one! It’s like starting your own business versus buying a ready franchise.

And then there’s my volunteer work with Penang Women’s Development Corporation which falls under the Penang State Government. I find it interesting from an outsider point of view – I find that different groups have different perspectives on the same thing. I help whenever I can because I think Penang can be a better community if only all the different groups and NGOs talked to each other. Right now, it feels like everyone’s doing their own thing and the right information doesn’t get to the people who need them.

If there’s one thing I’d like to do, I’d like to bridge that gap between women in business, women in multinational corporations and women in NGOs. In my utopia, we can built networks of quality yet relevant information to serve the people (especially women) who need it most. I’ve met some fascinating women when I help out on planning committees especially the Lean In Penang committee. All of a sudden, I am on first name basis with some MPs. Weird.

But more than ever, I think being 40 has allowed me to be me.

It feels utterly strange to declare this.

You know, growing up in small town like Banting where nothing exciting ever happens, I always wanted to escape. And I did, using my STPM results to apply to USM.

I read somewhere that if you’re not your own woman at 40, you will never be your own woman.

And this year, I am finding that I am comfortable being me. I was always a little intimidated by Life. But I choose not to be, well I can’t be after I read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.

No matter what brickbats are thrown at her, I must thank her for paving the way for women to make their own choices and to “lean in” if you want, or “lean out” if you like.

More and more I find myself incredibly inspired to do more and to live my life rather than let people dictate my life (not that that has ever happened, come to think of it. My parents are easygoing and have always been resigned to the fact that their eldest daughter isn’t going to follow orders ever).

So with the new blog look, I promise I shall be more blog-friendly i.e. write more. I know friends who have abandoned their blogs entirely for the newer, sexier media to share their life (Instagram, for example) but writing is still strong in my blood. Writing is like oxygen to me. I need to express myself in words. I remember saying this to a dear friend – “Even if no one reads my blog, I will still write.” (Damn I am stubborn.)

If I write and there’s a hungry audience, that’s a bonus.

If I write and there’s no audience, there’s always narcissism – I often read my old blog posts and wonder who wrote those (revealing) things.

Perhaps, just perhaps I am just as shameless as the selfie friends of mine – just that mine’s in a totally different medium!

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