Aahh… dolce far niente! A new year resolution

Ah! dolce far niente!. It means “pleasant idleness”, the sweetness of doing NOTHING (in Italian)

It is the start of a new year. Many friends have been posting their new year’s resolutions on Facebook. I believe in having goals and working towards them but somehow, like many people, I have not been very successful in keeping my new year’s resolutions.

This year, I decided to make only ONE resolution. One that sounds too simple and almost silly to make it as a New Year’s resolution.

I want to learn to find the joy of doing nothing. The two key words “Joy” and “Nothing.

Before you jump in to tell me how I should not be lazy (my mum would), I am not referring to being a beach bum, not finding employment or inactivity.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” –  Winnie the Pooh

The concept of ‘doing nothing’ sounds good to many people but something that many fail to do, especially Asians (and women). Many of us are so used to being too busy and doing too much. Learning to do ‘nothing’ or finding the joy and sweetness to just do nothing sound like an impossible task. Doing nothing is not inactivity. “Sit” around is a verb, so is “Smell” the roses but how many of us are actually doing that?

I read a great article in ELLE magazine asking readers when was the last time you really take a day off to sit on your couch, with a nice cup of coffee, read a good book and not feel guilty about not cleaning the house, not running errand, not attending to last minute work emails and just give yourself a day to just ‘be with yourself” and “do nothing much?” The article went on to say that women are prone to suffer from guilt for taking time off for themselves.

For a long time, I had been so busy with work and when I had a day off, I also had a long ‘to-do’ list – “go for gym training, go to the bank, reply ‘urgent’ emails, pick up groceries, meet up friends for dinner etc” Before I know it, the day off was gone and I was tired and upset that I didn’t get to REST!

Recently, due to various reasons, I decided to take a break from work (I realised it was a great decision I made in 2010).

A part of me is so eager to find the next new exciting role, especially when great friends and contacts are enthusiastic about sharing work opportunities. The wiser bit of me is persuading myself to just take some time off to breathe, enjoy this rare period when I can truly do the things I have always wanted to do but always too busy to.

I am convinced that doing nothing takes more effort and more determination than to rush around and doing many things.

I am not saying that my goal is not to work so that I can master the art of doing nothing, what I am saying is, I want to learn to find the joy in resting and taking absolute pleasure in idling some times (even if it’s just spending 15mins each day after work lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling and not feel guilty that I’ve not updated this blog or not reply to my work emails).

My pastor often reminds us of a great revelation he shared about the topic -“restful increase.” Key words – Rest and you’ll find the Increase. I am not going to preach here (follow the link if you want to read more about what Pastor said…).

To end this post, here are some pictures of my New Year holiday at a lovely resort by the beach in Bintan, Indonesia where I learned to enjoy doing absolutely nothing much. I eat, sleep, rest, read, stare at the sea, at the sky and strolled from one end of the beach to the other by myself, listening to my favourite music …then eat and sleep again..”

So, today marks the start of my new year resolution – in search of la dolce far niente. The next time you see me stressed and rushing around doing 1001 things, you know what to tell me!

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About Podcamp Singapore 08

Today, I had to drag myself out of my bed (on a cold, rainy morning) to attend the PodCamp 2008 in Singapore, organised by the Singapore Management Universities (SMU).  It is rare to have weekends to sleep in since I am either busy with events/ work or travel, I did have second thoughts about attending.

However, once I was at the event, I was quite pleased that I got out of bed. Although there were no oversea speakers this year, the sessions were quite interesting. I gathered quite a bit of information and was inspired by a couple of the speakers.

Every hour, two sessions of presentations/ discussions happened concurrently in separate rooms. I had a hard time choosing which ones to sit in. A lot of the speakers are old friends and some are “online acquaintances”. Since I was there to learn, explore and hear from everyone, I chose the ones with speakers whom I have not really had much interactions with in the past. I ended up in the following sessions:-

1) Melvin and Walter’s combined session (phew, no need to choose). As usual, the two never fail to impress.

2) Charlie Pownall from Burson Marsteller on the topic of e-fluentials and shared a survey the agency did in US. Pretty insightful but would be great to have a look at the Asian scenes.

3) Preetam Rai – The guy whose brother works in the same company as me and have been an online acquaintance for a while now. Today’s the first time we met in person. I really enjoyed Preetam’s session. I have been looking for interesting bloggers in Asia and Preetam shared his recommended list.

4) Michael Netzley – Again. Another online friend who I have always wanted to meet. Michael’s session was very inspiring – about wikis and educating the Gen-Y. Earlier this year, I stumbled upon the wiki Michael set up with his students as part of SMU’s social media course. I find the wiki very informative. Definitely a great effort by the students.

5) Finally, Amelia Wong shared her experience as a food blogger. Apparently, the pretty lady can bake some really delicious cupcakes. I can neither bake nor take beautiful pictures, so I am just going to admire her work for now and perhaps try to persuade Jon to copy the recipes and bake me a birthday cake!

For more details on the different sessions:-

Claudia has done a very good job – live-blogged at the different sessions. Robin and his team who put together this year’s podcamp had also written about it if you want more references.

The session that I missed and really wanted to sit in was the one on podcasting in Singapore by the tech65 guys

Overall, I thought the 6 hours at podcamp 2008 today were well-spent! And I kicked myself for forgetting my camera battery – have to wait for Mark to upload his photos as I was using his!

Plainsunset @ the Yahoo! Mobile Developer Awards

Since I was 4 years old, I had always wanted to be a musician. I played the keyboard and piano for 14 years but the music dream didn’t really come true. Ended up doing arts and design and somewhere over the years, started doing something else, completely different. So, here’s where I am now. No complaints though. I love what I do now.

Last evening, I was at Zouk and for the first time, heard the local indie/po punk band – Plainsunset played. When Jonathan and my very cool colleague Ray (who also plays in another local band, Kate of Kale) first told me about Plainsunset some weeks ago, I had never heard of them. I was actually surprised that Jon has their albums. I heard their songs from his iTunes collection and thought they were quite good and last night, hearing them live was pretty awesome!

Ok. I didn’t really go to Zouk for the bands.

It was more for work. And that’s where the other group of local young talents are found. At the Yahoo! Mobile Developer Awards (YMDA) part.

I am trying not to pull anything from the press release into this post. You can find out more yourself, if you are one of those developers who are exploring to develop cool applications for mobile.

Briefly, the competition is about encouraging young developers from tertiary institutes to innovate and create mobile-optimised applications using Yahoo!’s latest mobile development platform – Yahoo! Blueprint based on real business briefs from 4 corporate sponsors, including DBS Bank, Kellogg Asia, Malaysia Airlines and travel portal UEEEU.com.

The party last night was to award 4 winning teams and one Best in Show.

DBS bank widget won the Best in Show

What impressed me most was the quality of submissions from the young developers who created what we called mobile widgets . Check out some of the screenshots of the winning mobile widgets.

IZ Reloded’s who joined us at the party had done some video interviews and shared some pictures of the event.

Looking at the local bands and the young developers, I have to say, we have some really talented people in this city.

Blog Action Day – Stand Up, Take Action

A few topics came to mind as I reflect on this year’s Blog Action Day topic – Poverty. I had wanted to write a post personal experience and I thought of writing something relevant to this blog and my job – looking at how mobile phones could help with poverty in some emerging markets. (And some day, I might just post on that two topics).

But i figured, for now, I should highlight some initiatives/ organisations out there, supporting and fighting to end poverty and the opportunities for each of us to reach out and support/ do our part.

For a start, let’s look at what my own country, Singapore is doing? To support the Stand up 2008, a global initiative by the UN Millenium campaign in collaboration with the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, Singaporeans are organising a series of activities to “Stand Up, Take Action” together from 17 – 19 October. Check them out!

Thanks to my colleagues (Ray and Gavin) who brought Worldvision to our attention, Jon and I had recently decided to sponsor a child with the help of the organisation. It is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tacking the cause of poverty and injustice. We are extremely excited and very blessed to be in a position where we can afford to give and bless. I will probably share more once we finalise details.

Again, thanks to Jeremy, my colleague who knew of my obsession with books – brought to my attention the Room to Read organisation. They are doing things that are very close to my heart. The organisation partners with local communities throughout developing world to provide quality educational opportunities for children in the countries, striving to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time.

And there are many other initiatives, organisations and resources out there. Mashable.com has put together a good list.

Annual Blog Action Day – Proverty

It’s that time of the year again – the Blog Action Day this year is looking to discuss the topic of proverty. For folks new to the Blog Action Day, it is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. The aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion. On 15 October this month, all registered bloggers will post a post, video, podcast etc on the topic of “proverty”. Find out more by clicking on the banner on the right hand column of this blog or click here.

Last year, I posted on saving the environment

Using the power of the blogging community globally, discussing one single topic and raise different issues and perspectives on that topic – that is powerful! As of today, there are already 7643 bloggers registered, pledging to write a post on 15 October.

For those who are keen to join in, register your blog here and put up the cool banners on your blog to help spread the word.

My first CES

I’ve heard so much about Vegas and I’ve watched CSI and many other movies, set in this colourful city. This is the first time I am here and when people asked me, “so, how was it? Exciting!!??”

Sure! It was really exciting for about two days then I started to dread being here. If not for work and CES, I would love to be home right now. It is cold, dry (and I mean, very dry) and despite the gorgeous fountain at the Bellagio, the fancy “Paris”, “New York” hotels and casinos and the grandeur of the MGM, it is a city without much culture and everything is just man-made. I did, however, enjoyed myself at the Cirque du Soleil shows – Zumanity and KA.

Oh wait, I must make a disclaimer, I totally love my new job too! It has been a blast meeting fellow colleagues from different offices and learning a lot about the newly launched Yahoo! Go 3.0.

I was planning to post a day by day CES (personal) updates in this blog but I was so busy and I only had chance to walk around the other exhibiting booths yesterday. The pictures I took will have to go into flickr once I get home. I am sure many bloggers and media covered everything that is interesting this year. I personally am quite wowed by the new ultra big, thin and sleek LCD screens.

I am heading back to San Francisco tomorrow, then the long flight home the next day. I love SF (except for the really wet weather last week). Shopping is really great in SF.