Early Retirement = Early Death?

2 1/2 years through my retirement, I realized being retired was the best thing that ever happened to me. For one, I was healed of all stress-induced health problems, and the most beautiful thing is the excess weight that I’ve been trying to lose for some 15 years or so, simply melted away until I went down from 82 kgs to 62 kgs. I’m at my healthiest and blessed with the “peace that passes all understanding”! I may have lost my huge source of income and corporate identity but I’m at this place where God wants me to be, relishing my newfound career as a writer and digital technology learner!


I love the bright colors! It connotes JOY!


SONY DSC CW2016_abstract_watercolor040 / Daler-Rowney Graduate Sketchbook, 21,0 x 29,7 cm / 8.3 x 11.7 in / Lukas Aquarell 1862

Two more abstract sketches from yesterday. One more organic, the other one more like some kind of sign or letter. These abstract sketches are good for me because they always free my mind and I can let myself go.

Zwei weitere abstrakte Skizzen von gestern. Eine mehr organisch, die andere mehr in Richtung Zeichen oder Schrift. Diese abstrakten Skizzen tun mir gut, weil ich damit den Kopf frei kriege und mich selbst gehen lassen kann.

SONY DSC CW2016_abstract_watercolor041 / Daler-Rowney Graduate Sketchbook, 21,0 x 29,7 cm / 8.3 x 11.7 in / Lukas Aquarell 1862

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Parenting Blogger Emily Austin on Turning a Hobby into a Full-Time Job

Parenting Blogger Emily Austin on Turning a Hobby into a Full-Time Job

Ms. Emily Austin’s blog is so commendable; all aspiring bloggers should read her post. She generously wrote the most practical tips on how to overcome self-doubts. Her post came at the right time, it lifted me up when feelings of overwhelming frustration bogged me. I will always re-visit her posts for much-needed inspiration and encouragement. Forever grateful, my blogger friend! I wish you more success!


Since 2011, Emily Austin has built a loyal readership at The Waiting, her blog on parenting and motherhood. Emily’s personality and humor have helped her carve out her own corner of the web among thousands of family blogs. Through blogging, she has built a community of readers and colleagues, and eventually landed a position as a paid blogger and social media manager — transforming a hobby into a full-time career. I chatted with Emily about the evolution of The Waiting and her growth as a blogger.

What were your goals when you launched your blog?

Emily Austin Blogger Emily Austin.

Am I allowed to say that I didn’t have a goal other than to post once a week? I wish I had some inspirational story about how I had planned to write my magnum opus and find a cure for cancer by blogging, but I don’t. I just wanted to write. I don’t have…

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Time to Stand and Stare

Our French Oasis


Finding the time to ‘stand and stare’. It seems like only last week I was lamenting the end of the summer holidays and somehow the children and I were trying to get back into the school routine of early mornings; bundling everyone into the car on time, usually while someone is carrying their shoes and someone else has a drooping backpack half-open with books threatening to make a bid for freedom. We’ve just about got organised, the daily drill has almost fully fallen back into place and now here we are eagerly looking forward to the two week autumn holiday known as les vacances de la Toussaint. 

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Success: 8 Books That Inspire

Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I love this information really. I have read almost all of Dale Carnegie’s earlier books, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Richard Carlson’s Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Truly great inspirations!

Success Strategies

Inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

In order to Succeed, we must be inspired to do or feel something and become creative. That’s how we achieve our goals. Through inspiration we are kept on Base and Sincere….to take the next step to achieve our dreams, goals, and aspirations. Yes, it’s a simple way to keep us motivated. Today, we look at Books that inspire. Here are 8 written by great authors. Do add the names of the favs for our continued inspiration.

Books that Inspire

1. The One Minute Manager

2. Man’s Search for Meaning

3. How to Win Friends & Influence People

4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

5. How to Win Friends & Influence People


6. Awaken The Giant Within


7. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff


8. On Writing

Your thoughts and additions…

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Together & Set for Life!

Together & Set for Life!


My soul mate, my best friend, my partner, my buddy, my sounding board, my supporter, my cheerleader, my go-to person, my kindred spirit, and most recent one, my business partner (LOL!), my beloved Husband!

A whole lot of loving & living as a Team! Always has been, 43 years of knowing each other since we were 16! Bonded in the holy sacrament of marriage for 36 years!  Up to this day, he still gallantly opens the door for me,  holds my chair and waits until I’m seated!

We’re content to be within close physical distance of each other, even if we’re not talking or interacting. We enjoy the simple pleasure of being in the same place. Usually the ground floor of our mini-townhome.  This the place where we work together, have our meals, watch movies, do ballroom dancing, etc.

He’s doing something else, e.g. reading news updates online, watching YouTube with his headphone, learning to design websites & eBook covers, reading up on technical & technology issues, etc. And I’m doing something else, reading, writing, doing household stuff, etc. and we’re peacefully & perfectly happy that way!

Words do not need to be spoken most of the times! Each one easily ‘gets it’. We’ve had an enormous share of highs & lows, stress or fights, with the good outweighing the bad. We understand each other so well, finishing each other’s sentences, thinking the very same thing simultaneously!

Oh, how we fight and argue quite often! We’re never passive, never give the silent treatment. We just force each other to actually talk through, with him at the end saying sorry for something he never, or will ever be guilty of! LOL! I do really say sorry of course, even when I don’t really want to! But with such a long journey, we know that we can always work through every fight & argument as in the past many years! There’s a solid foundation to fall back on!

He does small things that make my life just a little bit easier. Doing seemingly trivial things better for me, no matter how simple. He never gets tired of listening to me, we never stop talking to and laughing with each other, about anything and everything, e.g. trivial or insignificant, life-changing, etc.

Whether it’s cooking, doing the grocery, paying utility bills, both of us don’t mind doing as long as we are by each other’s side, every little moment in which we continuously share our lives together.  He asks permission in everything, e.g. who’s getting into the shower first, “am going to bed early, do you need anything”, etc.  Always willing to make sacrifices, no act is too small or too big for him to make me feel that “he’s always there for me”!

Now that I’m a ‘newbie’ in digital technology, e.g. social media, writing eBooks, navigating the blogosphere, he’s compelled (patiently, of course!) to teach me and train me to learn all those things. He created my Facebook accounts, set up, build-ups, tweaks my website and even designs my eBook covers! It’s a blessing that his forte is on the technical side! And when I’m confused about the intricacies of eBook writing (posting it on my website, self-publishing, etc.), who else do I bent all my frustrations! But my beloved husband with all the love in the world encourages & motivates me to face the challenges head on, believes with his whole heart that I can do it, to keep the faith and never, ever give up!

With God at the center of everything we do, we are together and set for life!

My ‘Toxic’ Boss and I!

My ‘Toxic’ Boss and I!Open-Minded

My ‘Toxic’ Boss and I!

For many years, I was in a work environment where my boss was the ‘toxic’ type: critical, temperamental, creates a hostile environment, frequently frustrated, close minded, very opinionated, negative attitude, and erratic mood swings!

I’ve been there, I experienced it for years! I know how it feels to be working with a hard-nosed, tough and demanding perfectionist who rules with intimidation, insists on getting his way, very manipulative, mood changes very quickly from reasonably nice to ‘toxic’.

I must say ‘though that my boss was very intelligent, academically & technically superior!  It was difficult to work with him but during his ‘fine, good mood’ moments, he listened to reason because he was all about doing the best job he can, wanting to make an excellent impression to his superior (the CEO himself!).

He also knew that talented people (at least he considered me as one (describing me as the “most brilliant senior office administrator” in the company) made things happen. As I was reporting directly to him, he kind of expected me to have the same intellectual capability that he has! But many times, he drove me nuts in trying to achieve ‘outstanding’ or at least ‘exceeding expectation’ performance.

For those who are currently in the same situation, if it’s any consolation, take comfort in knowing that you have more company than you can imagine. And the good news is that you are not powerless. Quite the contrary, you don’t need to passively accept a ‘toxic’ boss. If your boss is obnoxious and bullies you, you have a responsibility to do something! And more often than not, a brilliant boss would love to hear feedback from their employees, he wants to know if he’s right and how to be, and where else he can do better.

If changing job or seeking employment in another department or elsewhere is not possible and not your immediate option (it was never for me!), you should do everything in your capacity to resolve this kind of situation.

Do not ever complain about your boss to any of your colleagues or worse, go to HR Dept. This could backfire on you and make matters worse.

Please bear in mind that clever & successful employees know how to make the most of a bad situation. A ‘toxic’ boss does not intimidate them!  Yes, they are coerced during sudden outbursts of nastiness & meanness!  But they easily bounce back, regain their footing and deal with the situation head-on.

They are smart enough to be resourceful and do their own discrete research so as to fully understand their ‘toxic’ boss. They use their personal observations and gathered information to gain leverage to neutralize the ‘toxic’ behavior.

It’s how you triumph or overcome those things and not focusing on what you’re going through at the moment, but rising above it and seeing how you can grow stronger.

While working with a ‘toxic’ boss is full of challenges and can be overwhelming, the positive side was I became more empowered, boldly confident, my communications and time management skills are unparalleled, and my overall self-image and worth are notched higher. The key is having excellent work ethics, shunning mediocrity, learning how to manage up this type of boss and work the negatives to your advantage.

The most important thing I did was choosing my battles wisely, widening my perspective and course of actions. As the saying goes, “it is wiser to be a master of your destiny than a victim of your history”!

You might say what I’ve written here are easily said than done. It can be hard and overwhelming but if you want to keep a highly paying job, like mine with a free high-end apartment, free utilities, children’s educational assistance (my kids studied overseas), you have no other option but to do it.

I look at it in a positive way that there is always a lesson to learn from everything and everyone. Nothing happens by accident.

If worst comes to worst, after repeated efforts for cooperation, still nothing happens and your whole well-being is undermined to the point of becoming a nervous wreck, it may be best for you to look for another job elsewhere. You have to decide how much stress & pressure you can handle.

With my experience working with a ‘toxic’ boss, nothing rattles me anymore! I can hold my own in any turf. I was promoted to the highest grade of my position with a much higher salary & more benefits. I ‘travelled the world’ to say the least. It couldn’t have been possible had I not been open-minded and judged my ‘toxic’ boss unnecessarily!

In summary, I reaped the rewards and coped with the challenges by being not judgmental. With an open-minded attitude, I thrived and flourished in a hostile work environment by:

  • Effectively navigating a negative situation to work in my favor.
  • I used time-tested strategies that successful people adapt to work effectively with their ‘toxic’ bosses.
  • I applied self-defense mechanisms which kept my dignity, sense of empowerment and self-respect intact.
  • I fostered a good relationship with my boss, toxic he maybe notwithstanding and why it was important to do that.
  • I made myself, my toxic boss and co-workers around me happier by creating an impact to change our work environment into a better place.

My experience became an incredible learning process. I discovered how working with this ‘toxic’ personality type of boss could serve me long-term and ultimately I grew from the process.

The Color of White!

Outer Layers

Outer Layers – One day at a time

I love wearing white. I love the freshness and crispness of a good white blouse, skirts, pants or dress. Whether it is spring, summer, fall or winter, it’s still all white for me! It all started 24 years ago when I decided to forgo my sense of style. I used to be a fastidious dresser, with expensive taste in clothes, bags & shoes.

When I made the decision to wear only white, it was liberating, some kind of freedom! No longer had I to spend time choosing my outfit for the day, what color to match with this & that shoes or bag! I found it such a fresh and easy way, no complication, it is as simple as that! Even if wearing white makes me look bigger, I don’t mind it at all. It’s a versatile color!

During inclement weather or in winter, it’s still all white for me underneath my jackets or sweaters! Although I must say, white winter wear in heavier fabrics are now available, and it definitely makes a difference in bringing out the warm weather favorite out the in the cold. Even if white easily show stains or water drenched! Any time of the year, it is white, white for me!

Wearing white is a personal choice. All my whites are made from cotton. It is natural fiber which acts as channels of positive energy. The cotton fibers interact with the surroundings giving in positive energy and filtering out anything negative. I find wearing white chic, cool and refreshing. White reflects on my face, it reflects light and absorbs perspiration, so it gives cool and collected aura, even if the temperature soars to the hottest!

The color white is cleanliness, innocence and wholeness personified! It is the ultimate in purity. White is the color of new beginnings, wiping the slate clean. For me, wearing white is dressing with a dignified look, grace, modesty and understated elegance. With a clutter-free look, white strengthens my character and personality. I feel it expands my sense of well-being, completely aware of what my purpose in life is!

Wearing white is constant thinking about the Almighty God, offering all my thoughts and everything that I do to the creator of the whole universe.  White creates a strong interaction between me and my God, my environment and with everybody around me. White cleanses my inner self and purifies my thoughts, emotions, and my spirit. It refreshes and strengthens my entire body & soul. 

White blends with the energy of all colors which support and enhance the aura of white. I feel that white reflects what is inside of me, which is the pure love of God. This radiates to other people around me and to my surroundings.

An elegant white dress provides instant visibility to people. White gives impact and projection. People easily remember me as the ‘lady in white’! The only way we can connect with others, for them to remember us is if we make an impact with the way we project ourselves. Dressing in white makes a difference, it can expand our projection and energy, much, much more than when we dress like everyone else.

White connotes simplicity, innocence, cleanliness, equality, complete and whole, immaculate, neat and pristine. However, it can also mean sterile (as in hospitals/clinics), empty, isolated, cautious, plain, distant, unimaginative, critical and boring.