Sunday, July 19, 2015

From Whiteboards to Chalkboards

*Disclaimer: The views and opinions reflect my own personal experiences. It is not meant to generalize any type of parenting and neither is it intended to undermine anyone's circumstances. This post is about my own journey; unique to my situation. 

Since changing profession to be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), the question I most often get is, "How are you getting used to the life?" Or something similar. "It's been very different," is my common answer. But I feel like expressing it now with a more elaborate response. So here are a few major issues I deal with in terms of the change.

Sense of achievement 
When I used to be working in the corporate world, results were more instantaneous. That made me feel more recognized and more acknowledged for my efforts and talents. As a trainer, the amount of people I connected with and the impact of my work was easily evident. Thus work satisfaction based on the outcome was almost always immediate. Decisions I made daily may be important but most times didn't involve life or death or lifelong circumstances (it did at times, for sure). 

You can imagine now as a mom, things are almost at that opposite spectrum. Most things I do now has a much longer-term goal. I can't see immediate results most days and I don't get a lot of affirmation that what I'm doing is making a positive difference. It's pretty scary to think how every decision I make now may or may not, for instance, emotionally scar my kids. But I won't know the outcome until much later (or worst, when it's too late). That's a lot of pressure! 

My stakeholders
I love dealing with clients. No, I'm not kidding. The belief I have is that every client is important. They are after all why your business exists. Most of them are predictable and I've always found it positively challenging to deliver customers' expectations, sometimes even beyond. And for those bizarre encounters with one-of-a-kind customer, well...they make for interesting conversations. However, my experiences with bosses, may not always be as pleasant. Some were not very nice people, some were not very competent, and some...were a combination of that. 

Right now my customers are all but 3 humans that are not even legal to do most things; 2 of whom can't go on most rides in amusement parks. Yet, they are the most difficult of clients I've had to manage. The 2 older ones goes to school and have tons of activities outside of that. Then my third, the bubs, is still learning skills to function as a little person. This customer service counter doesn't close. These clients are relentless in their demands and expectations. And oh my lord, the questions they throw at you! There are no FAQs and there are no answers that ever gives them any closure. However, luckily my boss now (the one who brings home the bacon and pays me) is a funny and generous fella. And he's always genuine in wanting to make me happy. 

Work environment 
I enjoyed the process of dressing up, looking well presented everyday when I go to work in an office. I loved doing work in my own corner cubicles and meeting rooms. I looked forward to meeting my clients and helping them with their needs. I'm happy to have meals and breaks with my colleagues and bosses. I got to have my own time attending to things for myself, before I head home and have to deal with all my kids' issues. I even got to use the toilet in private! 

Now, my wardrobe consists of practical items i.e easy to launder and needless to iron. Every time I see an episode of Mad Men, I wonder how in the world can a woman do her hair, nails, make up and dress up pretty everyday while staying home doing house chores and cook. When I think about how my hubby sees me in the mornings (with my gaping mouth, still sleeping in my overly exhausted state, with the bubs lying on my face), surely not much is needed to make a better impression at the end of the day for when he comes back! My work station is my kitchen. I believe I spend 80% of my day standing in there. But the view, beats any corner office I've ever had. Seeing my kids grow up before my eyes, is a privilege that I do not want to trade off. And although even going to the toilet means having an audience, holding-bubs-to-sleep time means more to me than any alone time. 

Appraisal and reviews 
The most dreaded part of the year, was having to do appraisals. The sheer amount of evidence provided to show you've accomplished something in that year. To proof that they would still need you for another year to come. But when it's a good year, through this process (if done properly), a person's confidence and even self worth can soar. Makes a lot of things endured feel worth it. And getting feedback is always good for growth. Peer and customer reviews also show for all the work one's accomplished.

Now my yearly appraisals come back in the form of school reports and health check up reports. My achievements are not my own anymore. I feel like everything I do now gets judged by how well my kids are doing. When my daughter can't make friends, it becomes my responsibility to fix it. When my son can't score well in school, it's me not coaching him enough. When my bubs throws a tantrum, it's my fault for spoiling him. My KPIs are all tied to my kids' agenda (and sometimes the husband's) or how well I've up kept the home. Every night I pray I do a better job at being a SAHM, but every day as it progresses I find myself unravel, and then feel like a complete failure again at the end of the day. It's a tough job! 

As a parent, getting feedback is a humbling experience. I get more defensive when I've been criticized now, than I did when I was in the corporate world because I realize the stakes are higher. And can we talk about peer reviews?! As a mom who needs advice and wisdom from other moms, one may ask family members, may join Facebook groups, or visit forums and blogs. One may also seek support from local mothers groups, either from school, church or play groups. But nearly in all these social or social media circles, I in turn find unwanted judgement. Everything I do seems to be wrong! Nothing that I do is good enough! There's no win. I get judged for things like not changing bub's diapers often enough, to how disgusting I am using wet wipes on my toddler's face. Yeah, I let my kids eat McDonald's, get over it. There is no win. According to everyone else, I'm a horrible parent. 

Customer reviews are the toughest. It's hard to explain to an upset 9 year old that although I didn't like her behavior in a certain situation, doesn't mean I don't love her. It's hard to get a 5 star rating from my well behaved 8 year old when I say 'No' to that toy he wants to buy. It's hard to earn employee of the year with the bubs who wants nothing but my full attention when I've got the stove cooking dinner. It's hard to be extremely sweet to the hubby when you've had 3 screaming kids in your face all day. 

Compensation and reward 
And the most anticipated time of the year back in the corporate world was the time for bonus, pay increment and promotion. It's when you get rewarded for all your hard work and see how much the organization values you. It's an exciting time but also can be devastatingly disappointing. People still do not believe me when I tell them that my first pay rise was a meager RM8! But I think subsequently I did quite well and have been quite happy with the way I was compensated. Benefits were also good, as I was lucky to have been in managerial positions in respectable companies for most of my corporate working life. 

The compensation, benefits and reward scheme now is a bit sketchy to say the least. The thing I miss most about my previous occupation is my own money. What I earned, I can use it however I deem fit, without any guilt or accountability to another. Now, managing the household finances is a strict process. So my bonus may come in a form of a new dress, instead of months of income. My benefits includes daily hugs and kisses and 'I love you's from my 'clients' and 'boss'. My increment equivalent may be added household chores that my kids volunteer for. And how does my reward look like? When my son held out his piggy bank to his dad and me, and said, "I want to thank you both so here, you can have all my money." 

So ask me again, how my life's like now as a SAHM? At times it's tears, screaming, exasperating, exhausting, hectic, thankless, routined, lonely. But mostly, it's goodness. And patience. And kindness. And all things love. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Eulogy | Things My Daddy Taught Me

I always viewed my daddy to be immortal. To me, I couldn't imagine a life without him. When I was younger, the song "Butterfly Kisses" will always make me cry. Because every time I heard it, I hear my dad's words to me. And every time I heard it, it makes me think of the day he would eventually leave me. Now that it has come to past, it is more unbearable than any sorrow I had been through yet. I also cannot believe that he's actually gone.

I admire him tremendously and often speak about him in my conversations. I spoke of him in my recent blog about Bersih 3.0 which I am glad thousands got to hear. When I am giving training, I talk about him and about things he's taught me. And as I lay him to rest today, I think about all he's passed on to me.

He taught me to never stop learning. Retired at the age 55 from the police force, his inquisitive mind will not let him stop. He continued working almost till his dying day. He's had at least 3 different jobs since his career as a police officer - from property development to food manufacturing to managing foreign labour. Every one of them required him to learn everything from scratch. But learning gave him joy. And knowledge gave him power. He shared his knowledge generously to those who wanted to learn. And from that, I made learning into what I do for a living. I live to learn, and I try to pass on whatever knowledge I have gained.

He taught me to protect the people you love. He literally rather die than to see us suffer. And that he did. When I was a child, I frequently complained about his over protectiveness. As childish ignorance vanished and I begun to see the world for what it actually is, I understood that he did that because he didn't want anything to harm me, even if it meant that I 'hated' him for brief moments. As I became a parent myself, I understood the reasoning that he'd rather hurt himself than have anything hurt me. He also loved his country. He spent his whole life sacrificing himself to protect the people in it. So now is my turn, to continue to protect the people he loves.

He taught me the value of charity. He looked after people who couldn't look after themselves. I witnessed first hand since I was a child, how he brought joy to the needy. He would bring us along on his food distribution trips to the homeless. We helped him do this 3 times a year at least. People stood in line waiting for their ration of which my dad personally purchased. I saw him make a difference to people who felt hopeless. And he allowed me to play a part in that giving of hope. Till now, I continue to do my part in charity, and it is because he showed me how and taught me why.

He taught me the art of story telling; that of which he learnt from his mother. The ability to capture his audience with fascinating tales that make them ponder, reflect. Stories that paint pictures of a mysterious time and era past. Stories that draw out insights, make you laugh and make you cry. When he lost his voice because of the tumor, I sensed his frustration. His passion for sharing treasured memories and thrilling adventures is what drives me to to the same. In my work and in my conversations, this is one skill that I appreciate the most. The ability to draw an audience in and keep them interested fuels my appetite to speak with meaning. 

He taught me about unconditional love, how even in moments of unimaginable suffering as long as love exists, nothing is impossible to bear. Even in his last hours experiencing excruciating pain, he smiled so that we can feel loved. No matter what I have done, it never changed his love for me. He loved without expectations, without limitations and without hesitation. When I decided to drop out of university and forgo my scholarship to pursue my own path, he welcomed me home with open arms and went out of his way to show support for pursuit of my dreams. He showed me that love is not expressed in words alone, but in a continuous act of giving - giving of one's time, heart and soul. 

As I carry his ashes in my arms, I accept - the fact that he has asked me to please let him go. But I miss him dearly. I've never felt safe except when he's around. How am I ever to feel that sense of security now that he's gone? But I do know one thing, and that is I will be okay. Many friends and family worry about me, that I might not be able to handle his passing well. But although I am beyond sad, my daddy has taught me one more thing...strength. There are times where we feel down and out, but nothing ever breaks our will and spirit. We conquer fears, disappointments, heartaches and failures, and we rise above it to start all over again. We will not be defeated. Call us stubborn, but we are built to withstand any storm that comes our way.

So even though cancer may seem to have won this battle, he did not lose. He went on his own terms, and left us strength to carry on. But most importantly, his victory in life is that his legacy lives on. He died a man without regrets, proud, and surrounded by the people he loved the most. After all, isn't that what's life all about?

I love you Daddy. I miss you so much. Thank you for being my hero. Rest in peace. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

They Were All Yellow – My Bersih 3.0 Story

”For you I'll bleed myself dry” - Yellow by Coldplay
Morning of 428. That was the song that was stuck in my head as I got ready to attend Bersih 3.0 rally. I put on my yellow t-shirt and sang ”oh yeah, they were all yellow”.

I wasn't there last year. When I read my friends' accounts of Bersih 2.0 and watched the video footage, I cried. I had my reasons not to be there and it was not because I didn't agree with the cause. So as I watched my friends and fellow countrymen got treated like pariah dogs running away from dog catchers, I died a little inside. There was one voice in particular, from the numerous videos posted, that still haunts me till today. A young lady crying out to the police, ”Is this what you stand for?! That you would hurt your own people?” Her voice was used in one of the Bersih 3.0 'trailers'. And the anguish in her voice echoed many of our sentiments. I on the other hand wanted to shout back (into the monitor nonetheless) ”That is not true!” Because if it is, my whole childhood would have been a lie. Let me explain.

My daddy served in the police force since he was 18, since the British colonial times. I grew up with the police around me. But none closer than the men and women of the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU). The riot police as people call them. You see, my daddy was heading one of the FRU units the last few years before his retirement. During Chinese New Year, FRU families will cook for us and help my family host 'open house'. FRU trucks will be parked in front of our house, dropping off policemen and women of all races. We were probably the only Chinese family that served rendang chicken and roti jala during this season. I understood the concept of 'muhibah' and of 1Malaysia way before Najib made it into an enterprise.
At times when my daddy couldn't pick me up from school, one of these FRU men will come by and make sure I got home safely. I grew up trusting that they will protect me. And they would do anything to make sure no one harmed me.

So understand this. On 428, when tear gassed was fired, and I had to run away from the FRU - the same people whom I trusted my life with - it broke my heart.

I'm sure by now you would have read all you could have on what went down that Saturday. You would have memorized the sequence of events blow by blow. And I will bear testament to all you have read and witnessed. Initially the atmosphere was fiesta like. I haven't felt such excitement from a crowd since World Cup Finals day in Paris back in 1998. However, when things changed for the worse as I was running away from the non stop tear gas ambush from Masjid Jamek to Central Market, I kept my eyes peeled for anything that would resemble the country I love. And here is what I witnessed.

People of all age, race and gender, turned to us and asked if we needed salt or water. We came ill prepared because we actually believed it wouldn't turn ugly this year. All we had was a hand towel. No one pushed, shoved or turned violent. No one looted, robbed or stole (I think even the common snatch thieves decided to put down their interest for the day for a bigger cause). We were all trying to disperse but couldn't because train services was stopped and tear gas was coming from all directions. But in the midst of it all, the beef noodle stall was still open for business and people stopped to eat. How Malaysian is that? Standing by the sidewalks eating bowls of noodles while the rest of us trying to find a way out of the 'war zone'.

As we walked towards Petaling Street, we came across DaiMaCai and Sports Toto shops that were still open. It's Saturday. So, life goes on, yellow shirt or not. I saw a few chinese uncles telling each other to stop from running away, they had to go buy number. Despite the mood of the situation, I couldn't help but laugh. I wanted to take a photo of them, but the tear gas was being blown at our direction so I had to keep moving.

We were walking towards the famous Air Mata Kuching stall in Petaling Street. My husband wanted one cup of that magic potion, so we went. There were tourists milling about the place, I think not really sure what is happening. As we were approaching the stall, another group of protesters ran pass us and shouted for us to go because more tear gas was coming. Immediately I could feel my eyes tearing again. I quickly covered my nose and mouth, and we ran into some back alley. By now, I was just fed up.

We came out at the other side of the alley, emerged at the other end of Petaling Street. "Do you still want the mata kuching or not?" I asked my husband. "Should we?!" He was hesitant to walk back into the same place where everyone was running out from. I said yes, took the towel and covered my face, and walked right back into Petaling Street. As we went 'against traffic', I had only one thing in mind. No, it's not that the air mata kuching was that awesome I had to risk getting arrested for. Is that I refuse to be terrorised in my own country by my own people. It's a free country. I will walk to the stall and get myself a drink, thank you very much. Eyes stinging, throat burning - I drank the mata kuching. 

Ok, trying to head to the Tau Fu Far stall next was a bit of a challenge. So we walked on towards Central Market, trying to get on the trains. I was finally able to Facebook, and quickly posted some of my thoughts and pictures. When we were going up, people told us that the trains had also been stopped at this station. I was surprised though, not because the train stopped, but how calm everyone was about it. I have seen worse reaction on a normal day from people during unexpected train breakdowns heading back from work. 

I got home safe and sound, back to reality. The next thought was, I needed to face the wrath of my daddy. Sunday when I 'debriefed' him and my family what went on, he explained about certain actions that was taken. For instance, trains had to stop because high voltage tracks and moving trains would have caused serious injuries to people who would jump on tracks trying to flee the scene. People were denied legal representation, and it was within a Police Act to do so for the first 24 hours. The debate went on for a bit and my mummy finally asked the mother of all questions, "So what did you all achieve that day?"

I tried to answer, but under my daddy's watchful eyes, meaningful words failed me. So I turned on YouTube and showed my parents the "Same Day Edit" video that most of my friends were sharing on social media. Stunned silence came after. Where I could not find my voice, 80000 other Malaysians help me speak up.

I am your typical Malaysian. A 4th generation Chinese born and raised in Malaysia. I am a mother of two young energetic children. I am your middle class average Jane Doe. I am a professional working 9 - 5. I studied here, married here, worked here and have never lived abroad. I did not go out on 428 because I have a terrible life. I did not go out because I am not loyal to my country or her rulers. I did not go out because I am a dumb wit bought by the opposition to cause trouble. I went because I love my country. I went because I am Malaysian. And thank you all who stood next to me that day to help me reaffirm that. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Perfect Moments

There are moments in your life, that you will forever remember clearly. Every detail. It burns in your mind forever, because of the people and feelings involved. And those moments, albeit rare, will remain the perfect moments in our lives.

Holding my daughter's hand now as she is trying desperately to get a good night's sleep, the sounds of her cough and congested nose strikes at my heart like a sharp knife. And it is in this sad moment, that again my mind brings me back to that evening. One of those perfect moments in my life.

I was lying on the couch of our own first home with my one year old daughter sitting beside me reading a picture book. I was falling in and out of sleep because I was tired from work and also because I was pregnant with my son. We were all waiting for my husband to come home from work. And as I heard his footsteps at the corridor, and then him using his keys to open the door, my heart was filled with joy. When he stepped in, smiled at us, I felt my life was perfect. I have never had so much love in my life. It was a simple moment. Nothing extraordinary. But yet, it was perfect. It was everything I ever dream of.

And then I went on to chase my empty dreams again. Forever trying to find those perfect moments. As if I have come a full circle, no matter how far I went to find those moments, whenever I think about having a perfect moment, my memory brings me back to that evening again. If only every moment of our lives where as surreal and perfect like that. But then again, we wouldn't cherish it as much if that was the case now, would we?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

People Food - Not for Dogs

Quite a number of friends have asked me before about what kinds of food are dogs not allowed to have. I actually have been keeping this list, so might as well share it with you right? (I am sorry to cat owners, because I really don't know much about them or their dietary requirements).

Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. As little as a single serving of raisins can kill a dog.

Onions destroy red blood cells and can cause anemia.

Chocolate can cause seizures, coma and death. Baker's chocolate is the most dangerous. A dog can consume milk chocolate and appear to be fine because it is not as concentrated, but it is still dangerous.

Coffee, coffee grounds, tea and tea bags
Drinks/foods containing caffeine cause many of the same symptoms chocolate causes.

Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, muscle tremor and paralysis. Limit all other nuts as they are not good for dogs in general, their high phosphorous content is said to possibly lead to bladder stones. Exception to this rule is PEANUTS and PEANUT BUTTER.

Tomatoes can cause tremors and heart arrhythmia. Tomato plants and the most toxic, but tomatoes themselves are also unsafe.

The fruit, pit and plant are all toxic. They can cause difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation in the chest, abdomen and heart.

Nutmeg can cause tremors, seizures and death.

Apples, Cherries, Peaches and similar fruit
The seeds of these fruits contain cyanide, which is poisonous to dogs as well as humans. Unlike humans, dogs do not know to stop eating at the core/pit and easily ingest them. It can also become lodged in the intestines and kill the dog in 24 hours with no warning.

Hope this at least helped a little. Keep your doggies safe and healthy. From my Sunshine & Snow to your pups.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Ledge

You are standing on the ledge, and I am standing slightly behind you, holding your hands tightly. You have been here before. Only this time, this ledge is even higher, the fall even further down and the person holding your hand then was someone else. You recognize this, and you feel your life has come a full circle, and you didn't make it anywhere near where you wanted to be.

You asked me to look down, at all the things you have pushed down or fell off the ledge. I take a step nearer and look down. I see shattered dreams, broken hearts, bruised confidence, and unresolved passions at the bottom. You keep looking down but I keep looking at you. I tell you it is okay, I am still here. But you don't see me. You refuse to look at the safer grounds that we are standing on. And I break down in helplessness.

I turn your face to look at me. See me. I am here. Then as the wind blew hard, you took my hand and start crawling back to safer grounds. We crawl slowly, and I feel safer... for you and for me. But in an instant, as if the ghosts of the valley calls to you, you let go of me and start running back towards the edge. You tell me there is nothing to live for on the safer grounds. That all you built was down in the valley. Shattered. You just had to mourn them one more time. I run after you, because I promised I will not leave you alone ever again.

As we stand and mourn, I get tired from standing. I feel like letting go off your hand, but am afraid that you will jump or I will fall of the ledge. I keep looking at the safer ground, and wonder when we will ever make it back. Then as I feel my grip on you loosen, you tell me that I have pushed you here to the ledge. I keep telling you I do not have the energy to hold on, but you insist that the stand won't be for long. So I stare ahead, trying to take in all the beauty of the view from the ledge. To draw strength to stand there longer. But as I stood going weary, I had to unload certain weights in my life, in order to keep standing next to you. By choice, I start throwing things that I had built and wanted down to the valley. This depresses you more. And you feel you have no choice but to push me to safer ground, and force me to leave you at the ledge.

I stand on safer ground, calling you. "Look at me". You do not hear me. So I choose to run to the ledge and decide to jump. You grab me and ask me why I do this. I do not know. Maybe it's because I am tired on running back and forth. Maybe it's because I too have nothing else on safer ground to live for. And maybe, just maybe, I wanted you to know how it's like to see the love of your life stop fighting the fight, giving up and leaving you behind. This was the threat and you felt no greater betrayal. 

You finally sit at the ledge and ask me to sit beside you. You said that having me sit here calms you down. Helps you from wanting to jump off the ledge. But you feel me shiver. And you asked me why I feel so insecure and unsafe. "I am afraid of heights, Baby." It never came to your mind, that I would be afraid of anything. So you ask me "What now?" I plead you to look at the ground we sit on, stand on. And look further ahead, to the safer ground. There are new dreams to built, new passions to explore, new families to embrace. And I want to be there with you when you finally make it there. I will be with you every excruciating step of the way. I would scrape my knees, bear cuts on my fingers, withstand hunger and thirst, if you would step off the ledge and walk with me back to safer grounds. 

So here I am, standing with you on the ledge, holding your hands. What do you want to do? What do you decide? 

Monday, May 11, 2009


I love the getaway...beaches has always been my thing. Tioman was a lovely place. And of course, I love the person that was sharing my first experience in diving. But I hated to learn how to dive! I will try not to bore you with too much details, but I might have to narrate it dive-by-dive (if I can recall clearly, 'cause my brains could have been fried by the amount of nitrogen that went in).

Dive 1
Find a buddy. Effortless.Get into the wet suit. Easy.
Learn about the equipments. No problem.
Carry equipment from deck to shore. Nearly fell.
Going into the deep ocean water for the first time. Panic.Must breathe through mouth instead of nose. Almost impossible.
Clear mask underwater (letting stinging sea water into the mask and blowing it all out). Mind blowing.Bobbing up and down in shallow waters (about 3m) for a long time. Motion sickness. Need to throw up, but might choke and die underwater. Decided to call it a day.

Dive 2
After spending the whole night freaking out to Red, I thought I managed to convince myself to be better at this. It took me no more than 5min in the water...I started panicking. All I wanted to do was come out of the water. Surface. Surface. Let me go dammit! The dive instructor held me down, signaled for me to breathe. Cleared my mask. After gaining back some level of sanity, we joined the rest of the group and started repeating all the skills we have learnt. But we had 2 new skills to learn in this dive. I managed to survive without further incidents and with my confidence in tact.

Dive 3
After lunch we suited up and went back in the 
water. Additional skills to learn:
- Removal of weight belt underwater (this required us to take out the weight belt, hold it in one hand, do a body roll to put the belt on again). Not that difficult, just tricky as I got disorientated when I was TRYING to roll in water.
- In an out-of-air situation. This one nearly damn killed me. I so wanted to die in this session. Literally. Took me a long time before I was calm enough to purposely remove my air supply underwater, take Red's alternate regulator (they call it the octopus) only to realize it could not work! I had no air! I threw out the octopus, panicking, grabbed my own regulator, gulped what seemed like tons of sea water, choking for air, and then tried hard to breathe once I got air in my lungs. After the instructor checked the equipment, he seemed to think it's safe now for me to repeat that unnatural act of choking underwater. This time it worked better, but nonetheless, I still gulped plenty of sea water as struggled to get the octopus into my mouth. (I wonder if any small plankton or fish went into my body). As if that was not bad enough, the next was to share my regulator with Red. If this is not an act of "I will die for you", then I don't know what is. At every interval where the regulator was with Red and I was gasping for air, I swallowed sea water, choked more, panicked even more. Lucky for me, it's his face that I am looking at. Although I really felt like crying, I eventually calmed down because I knew this man would not let anything happen to me. 
- We apparently learnt how to fin like a dolphin. I think I looked more like a half dead salmon.

Ended with a cramp on my right foot only to realize later that I sprained my ankles. It begin to swell and I had to call it a day. The girls went back in for another dive, Red stayed with me (ON DRY LAND).

Dive  4 - 7
Woke up and found my bikini missing. Spoilt my mood. Borrowed swimsuit from Bec. Limping around with swollen ankle. Suited up, got onto speedboat, posed for a group shot and mentally prepared for FOUR boat dives in a day.
It was unnerving to imagine holding on to mask and regulator, sitting at the edge of the boat and flipping backwards into the sea. But once you get a hang of it, this is actually the best part!Can't explain the sense of calm as you crash into the water, breathe with ease, look up at the clear water from beneath and slowly floating to surface.
The four dives were all quite similar but yet held very different experiences for me. The deepest we went to was 23metres. This was Dive 6 and because my ankles were busted, I was being towed around by the instructor. These boat dives were indeed more relaxing and fun compared to the earlier learning shore dives. However, I still found myself from time to time panicking and wanting to surface. 
Things I experienced/saw in these 4 boat dives:
1. REALLY cold waters when we reached below 20metres. 
2. You could not only feel the current underwater, you can actually SEE it.
3. Swam through narrow tunnels of corals. I think they are corals. It can't be real caves can it?? LOL
4. Was left alone in the deep blue sea for a few terrifying minutes while instructor tried to locate the rest of the group.
5. Saw amazing sea life - turtles, clown fish, shark, school of barracudas, really tiny red fish, stingray, FISH, FISH, FISH an FISH. They were all beautiful. Thank God we didn't come ascross jelly fish. I would have freaked.

To add to the difficulty, after ALL that we endured, we had to sit for a written test. Thankfully, we all managed to pass (with the help of an open book and unethically asking each other). Celebrations were in order and we drank to our 'success'. I still cannot believe till today, that miraculously, I am now a certified scuba diver! :D