Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The one where we all turn 30

Come October, I always think about life (more than usual) and begin to reassess and evaluate the year I've had. I also have my medical checks in October, doing my bit to take care of this life God has blessed me with.

I also look forward to posting an epic and memorable blog post which I've been doing every birthday since 2004. This year however, I decided to do something a little different. I wanted to appreciate the people who have made an impact in my life and who have really helped shape me.

I decided to write 30 letter to 30 individuals whom I've had a life-changing experience with. The catch was, I had to hand-write these letters. It was no easy task as I've developed carpel tunnel over the years and I feel like I'm beginning to lose the ability to do the everyday things like turn on a tap, or open a bottle of water, and even to take notes at church has become quite agonizing.

The more I thought about it, the more I knew I had to do this last bit of letter writing to preserve this dying art and maybe to prove that I've still got some strength in these hands yet. I've written 20 letters to date and I'm still at it, penning the last 10 which I'll deliver over the next few weeks.

In writing these letters, I've rediscovered the many wonderful things I've learnt from friendships made and I tell the recipients of my letters just how much their life and actions have impacted mine. I believe we really do learn a lot and pick up things from our family and peers so it was nice to actually put into words the practices or traits which I've adopted from the people I look up to and I've grown with.

My birthday weekend was spent on an island. I woke up bright and early, at 4:30am to catch the sun rise. I was at Pulau Gaya in Sabah for work and my colleague and I picked our way across the darkened resort compound (praying there were no snakes around) towards the deserted beach to hopefully catch the sun rising over Mount Kinabalu.

As the first sign of daylight began to prick the sky, I felt as if a song was bubbling up inside me. Light orange hues slowly spread across the sky and I couldn't help but sing:-
“Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!"
As cliche as it sounds, I was so glad to be alive and so blessed to be able to wake up to see 30 in such spectacular fashion. It's like He made the morning perfect, just for me :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Music Monday: Brooke Waggnoner

This song first caught me offguard as I was sitting in my car driving home from work. The radio station I had on generally play pop songs on repeat so this was a pleasant surprise. Of course when you hear something this awesome you just have to Shazam it and I found Brooke Waggoner!

Her lyrics are simple and yet, just beautiful.

Fresh Pair Of Eyes
'Cause I want to be seen
With a fresh pair of eyes
The single white tree
In a black hood of disguise

I want, I want to be seen
With a fresh pair of eyes
The single, the single white tree
In a black hood of disguise

I miss God, I miss God
I miss God, I miss God

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

in the stillness of morning....there You are

Have you ever had an overwhelmingly glorious yet surreal moment?

A time of day when you stir into consciousness and flicker your eyes open, blinking away the sandy wisps of sleep and feel at that exact moment that God was right there with you. He brushes your hair away from your eyes, caressing your cheek. You say good morning with a wide spread grin and he says,"Good morning my love. Good morning my daughter. Good morning my treasure."

As thoughts of the day ahead start to fill your mind and the worry of work and meetings and dirty dishes and laundry and the lists you make of lists of things you have to do and should do and MUST do, they overwhelm you.

And you wish, oh you wish that you could just linger a while longer, in this quiet wakefulness of a perfect morning.

Curtains drawn yet that dim yellowy light forces you right into the reality of a new day.

You shut your eyes and just for awhile, everything ceases. Your thoughts are affectionately quiet, you experience a tremendous calm.

He says, "Be Still". And there you are.

Your heart swells and something I can only describe as Joy fills it as you emerge to greet a brand new day with renewed hope.

As a writer and editor, I am passionate about the right words, in the right format, with the right spelling and punctuation. But sometimes maybe words are not enough to describe the glorious feeling of God's face shining down on you.

It is ok fumble words. Use fragile words or angry and honest ones that sound far from perfect but yet, have to be heard and can only be heard by the One who hears your every cry and lament and prayer.

Oh He's there in the unspoken words too. On such days, you rise and rub the sleepiness from your eyes and march into the day with purpose, and He still sees an overcomer and a warrior.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Music Monday: Capital Cities

Capital Cities is an indie pop duo formed by Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian. The band is pretty new to me but they've been around for a couple of years and I found Safe & Sound on YouTube while clicking through video after video one weekend.

The band premiered the official video of “Safe and Sound” on April this year on VEVO which was directed by Grady Hall (Beck, Modest Mouse)!

The video featured work from Emmy-nominated choreographer Mandy Moore (who also choreographs for SYTYCD). The video was nominated for two 2013 MTV Video Music Awards: Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects. The video won a 2013 MTV Video Music Award for Best Visual Effects.

It's such a fun video so check it out!

When that's done check out "Kangaroo Court" which features Darren Criss! This sooo explains the Instagram pic!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Music Monday: Cups by Anna Kendrick

I loved the song Cups when I first heard it on Pitch Perfect and Anna Kendrick performed it awesomely. Since then, there's been tons of covers, one of my favourites being the one by Sam Tsui, Alex G, Kina Grannis and Kurt Schneider.

And then my two favourite dancers went and choreographed a piece too which was too good not to share. :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Knitted together

The Tailor-Made Man is a powerful play and it's been awesome hearing the various accounts and reviews by people who caught it over the weekend. I didn't get the chance to watch it in its entirety but working behind-the-scenes on it brought a unique experience I never thought I'd have.

I agreed to help out not because I'm amazing at theatre productions but I was there solely because Jason (JD) needed people to help with the play. Being a close friend and brother to me, I knew how much this production meant to him and decided that I would do all I could to help out.

Little did I know, I would be in over my head!

I joined the props and stage team where I felt my interest in crafting and designing could be put to use. I was assigned the task of designing Mr Potiphar's set and after a few weeks of trying my hand at different ideas I felt that this just wasn't for me. I wasn't in my element and was beginning to feel flaky about being a part of the production.

I was flirting with the idea of bailing on stage design but Jason (my husband) talked some sense into me. He encouraged me to press in and he had faith in me. He said I couldn't disappoint JD and that God would give us the strength and creative ideas we'd need. So, along with guidance from the stage and props team lead by CY and Michelle, Mr Potiphar's scene was created.

Slowly, yes VERY VERY slowly, things took shape with the help of the amazing girls and guys from the props team. We bonded over tubs of paint, spray cans and chocolate, and I marvel at the attitude of these people who gave hugs freely and were always cheery despite working till late.

Picture by Huey Chin

When I first decided to move to Acts Church, I didn't have plans of where I would serve or what I would get involved in. I knew my husband would grow in Actstream and I was prepared to play the role of supporting wife. I put aside all that I had grown to love at my previous church and shelved the dreams I had within me. Being an elder at my previous church, it ached not to serve but after a few months of doing nothing, I was contented with just filling a seat.

Sure I made friends and agreed to host Homes and even stepped out of my comfort zone a little but I made sure not to delve too deep when making contact. I knew that liking FB statuses and saying 'Amen!' and 'I'll pray for you' in Whatsapp just doesn't constitute doing life with someone. But I wasn't prepared to go the extra mile.

Working on this production however made me sit up and realise that in life, there is a need to practice the skills of real human contact, from as small a gesture as eye contact or a smile, to the tenderness of a human embrace, real human interactions have the power to warm hearts and leave a lasting impression.

Working with the makeup team brought a whole other experience too. I met some of the nicest people on the team who were so forgiving when I messed up and cast who were ever so patient with my lack of skills. I rarely wear make up so I have no idea why Fiona and Melodie entrusted me with these characters. But it was such an amazing discovery process for me.

Getting to know the team and cast has been an enriching experience. Everyone always had a kind word to say and were so very encouraging. I almost forgot that these were complete strangers to me at that point of time.

So what did I take away from The Tailor-Made Man?

Maybe what I learnt from this production was to purposefully make connections and foster real relationships with the people I was thrown together with. I guess I'm back on the path of realising and revisiting my dreams and learning to be at peace with the idea that in life, some roles you are forced to play, are really orchestrated and tailor-made for you.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Music Monday: All Sons & Daughters

Check out All Sons & Daughters, an American Christian folk duo who are actually worship leaders at their home church in Tennessee. 

This particular song got me as I was preparing myself for service on Sunday, especially the part where it goes,
All we haveAll we had Was a promise like a thread Holding us keeping us Oh from fraying at the edge 
I know some of the tunes have a sad melancholic touch to it, but that's probably what I love about folk-ish music. :) It makes you pay more attention to the words.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

setting your sights

I'm not a very outdoorsy person although I'd like to think I am. I love walking the beach and discovering new trails in the city but when it comes to hiking, I cringe at the thought of getting my shoes muddy and having to battle leeches and various other killer-blood-sucking insects.

But when my bestie suggested we visit one of Malaysia many waterfalls for the holidays, I jumped up and said "YES!"

We headed to Hulu Langat towards Pangsun. The goal was to reach Lepok falls for a nice afternoon swim, indulge in homemade sandwiches and then head home. We found the small Orang Asli village at the foot of the hill and made our way into an area with Durian Orchards and Bamboo forests.

It wasn't durian season thankfully so I didn't have to add the fear of falling durians to my already thumping heart. One of the guides told us the trail was leech-free but my eyes kept a look-out anyway.  Hutan mana tak ada lintah!?

It was pretty much a pleasurable walk in the forest. After awhile you stopped hearing the river and all you heard was forest sounds. It was a hard track at times but I kept telling myself that the end was gonna be worth it. I prayed through our journey. It helped me draw my focus away from my overactive imagination.

The trail was steep at times and slippery and sometimes gross with leeches waving in the air, waiting for unsuspecting humans to leech on. We stumbled along, losing the path every so often, but we carried on. I got to thinking that if I was alone, I'd probably have turned back. Keeping my eyes glued to the ground, ears peeled, we marched on.

After about an hour and a half we heard water and quickened our pace. We could see the river up ahead and noticed a few other hikers who had reached before us. We settled further down stream and explored a little. The water was clear and there were little catchments where you could dunk in. I just wanted to rip my shoes off and cool my feet in the cool water. But we weren't at the best part yet.

We decided to move further up nearer the falls and it was a tough climb but we arrived at the foot of the falls where there was a deep pool you could swim in. It was amazing. The clear COLD water and the gushing stream. We couldn't wait to change and dive in!

The trip got me thinking about how much our life was like a hike to the falls. The journey is rough with muddy trails and strange sounds and insects just waiting to have a go at you. But with the right people walking with you, egging you on, and the idea of that clear cold waterfall waiting for you at the top, you've just gotta set your sights on what's ahead and press on. And when you think you've reached, there's almost always a few more rocks and boulders to climb over before you reach the Best Part.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Music Monday: Lucius

I recently came across Lucius and boy have I got a girl crush on Jess & Holly. :D

They harmonize soooo well together and the subtle guitar solos make my stomach flutter. I don't know why that happens but it just does.

Here's a video from "Go Home" It's not my most favourite from them but it's equally good. This video won "Best Animation" at the 4th annual Music Video Film Festival Band Battle in 2013.

Do check out some of their other songs and live sessions on YouTube. It gives me so much pleasure when I find new stuff to listen to...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Music Monday: Lord Huron

I absolutely loved the track from this video and after multiple attempts at Shazam ing, it finally registered!

So I bring you Lord Huron with Ghost on the Shore.

A Godly City

As I woke up this morning, I was excited to start the new week. I try not to give in to the Monday Blues and instead map out a wonderful week filled with work which I enjoy and fruitful time spent with loved ones. 

The drive to work was horrid as usual but as I drove into town, I noticed there were more cars than usual, the jam seemed bad for a Monday morning and as I passed by the beautiful Al-Bukhary Mosque, it dawned on me that it was May 13th. 

My mind began re-reading all the Facebook posts and articles I've read over the past week wondering if there was any sign of a possible unrest. What was causing this blasted jam? Was there a demonstration up ahead? I knew it was highly unlikely but one can't help but get paranoid some days. 

As I slowly drove passed the Mosque, a certain calm came over me. Talking to the Big Guy, I knew that I was safe in my own land. 

I tend to plot getaways and possible emergency scenarios in my head. Fastest way out of the office to my car, fastest route to get to my husband, fastest route home on foot etc...yes I should see someone about this paranoia. But every time I drive by a mosque, I know that if I chose to enter a mosque to seek refuge I wouldn't be turned away. Places of worship have always been called sanctuary and are known as places of refuge.

I want to believe that Malaysia has not lost its Godliness. I choose to believe in a country with Godly values, with people who practice and live out these values with righteousness.

So this May 13th, I said a special prayer for Malaysia, that no matter what nationality, creed or religion, racism will never be the cause of unrest. Racism has no place in a country with mixed marriages and people in a cacophony of colours. Race should continue being a contest of speed and not so much about a genetic stock. 

Today, I choose to forget any racial slurs thrown at me or anything racially offensive I've taken to heart. I hope my children will truly know Malaysia and not a race-based Malaysia. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Music Monday: Lisa Hannigan

I didn't know which Lisa Hannigan video to share cause I sorta like em all! I simply chose this because this was the first ever video I saw of her a few years back.

This Irish singer/songwriter  started her music career as a member of Damien Rice's band and then moved on to do her own thing. She's collaborated with Glen Hansard (Once/The Frames) and Gary Lightbody (Snow Petrol) among others. Pretty cool musician IMHO and she does interesting covers too!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

in the background....

So I totally missed Kimora Lee's appearance at Starhill as I was busy with a different project. I guess our interview didn't quite happen either but no worries, I was immortalised at the event by a local blogger who apparently takes horrible pictures just for the heck of it.

This picture is all kinds of funny though. Gotta' love his sense of humour in all his event shots.

Here's the original video. My hosting/directing debut. First and last I tell ya!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Music Monday: The Naked and Famous

The Naked and the Famous hail from New Zealand and are a post-punk revival band.

What's post-punk revival you ask?

That's basically what you get when you take inspiration from the original sounds and aesthetics of garage rock of the 1960s and post-punk and New Wave of the late 1970s. (according to uncle Wiki of course)

Think Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes, The Strokes,  The Vines and Arctic Monkeys perhaps?

The female vocalist of The Naked and Famous has a darn cool name! Alisa Xayalith. Now where did that come from?!

The song Young Blood was prominently featured in the Pilot episode of Elementary, the American Sherlock Holmes remake by CBS. And then some of the other songs were on Gossip Girls, The Secret Cirle, Vampire Diaries, Grey's Anatomy etc.  Fun stuff!

How do you know...?

How do you know when that restless feeling stems from a spirit of 
discontent... or adventure?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

a little reminder

Today I'm just reminded to plug in to the right things and focus on the things that matter. This was probably the only resolution I made this year and as we enter into March, I hope I'm living it. Being all there.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Music Monday: Fiona Apple

This is just one cool ass song. Honestly I haven't heard Fiona Apple in a looooong while but this song makes me want to dig up all that I've missed since her second hiatus.
"The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do." 
Yups that's her album title. Pretty cool, no? Would be even cooler if there was a dance choreographed to this track. :D

Monday, February 18, 2013

Music Monday: Sayla

Here's a little something from the local front. Wordsmith Vix Chandra aka Sayla always has been quite the poet and he has the musicality to match. Here's one of his latest tracks which I absolutely love.

Little known fact about Vix is that he was an avid painter too. It always amazes me how one person can bring to life or channel creativity in all its different forms and ways.

Keep your eyes peeled for Utopian Dreams Pt2: Sui Generis (2013). Check out more tracks by Sayla at and

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What Makes Love True

This is a really cute video from two of my favourite fashion photographers. Their individual works are really inspiring and although I don't take good pictures, their styling and ability to capture scenes and moments have really enabled me to look at things a little differently. Especially in my line of work. :)

I'll perhaps share a video I worked on inspired by Garance. :D

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Not with haste

SO since I just did a Music Monday segment of Mumford & Sons, I'm gonna top it off with an amazing dance piece by one of my favourite dancers. :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Music Monday: Mumford & Sons

This is one of my favourite songs from Mumford & Sons. They've got some really great music and this English folk rock band definitely captivates the little village girl in me. There's just something about listening to Mumford & Sons on a bright Monday morning - it sorta transports me a million miles away from all this concrete around me. :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

travel bug

I've got the travel bug and am secretly planning our little getaways for the year. :D
Where have you gone? What have you seen? Who have you met? Have you lived and experienced?
At the end of the year I hope I'll get to answer all that. :)

Ciao traveler :) from Celesty Lee on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

shiny things

One of the best post I read about the new year was from Mighty Girl.
I especially like the last bit:
Make things shinierDisco balls! Lip gloss! Futuristic rockets with lens-flare sheen! Admit it. Shiny things are better than regular things. For one, they catch the light. Further, they distract stupid people so you no longer have to engage in conversation with them. Finally, they really pull a room together. In 2013 I am coating everything in glitter. You! Come here. Shiny things! 2013.
My cousin Rachael and bestie Audrey would agree. Hurrah for Shiny things!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

there's nothing like the present

The new year reminds me of a chemistry set. It feels like a time we get to empty out our dirty old beakers and throw its murky contents down the drain. We get fresh jars to start a new experiment and new process over as we add substance and ingredients and elements into this bottle. We fire it up again, testing its resistance and watch as chemicals react. Solutions change colour or bubble over while some pop, crackle and snap. And all the while, we write, cause a scientist always observes and takes note of each and every action and reaction they find.

Every year, I write my promises for the year. What I hope to achieve at work, at home, with my family, in my relationships, for my physical health and for my spiritual well being. But this year, I figured, why write a whole page of promises I hardly keep. Good intentions but no follow-through. That's my problem! hmmph.

So this year, I only made one promise. I resolve to be present. Not like just simply living in the present although that's a must-do too... but simply being present. Showing up. In mind, thoughts, attitude and time. To be present in all entirety. To be there totally. Like, totally!

It's a tough promise to make cause we've all had times where we've been at a meeting at work but our minds have have travelled the seven seas, or we've gone out to meet with friends but spent most of the time hunched over our smartphone screens. What about times when someone in the family was talking to you but you couldn't tear your eyes away from the TV/Computer screen. (GUILTY!)

I think maybe being present sums up many others' resolutions for the year. Love more. Laugh more. Live more. Imagine more. Wander/Wonder more. (No one ever says work more but I'll throw it in the mix.) Work more. (Ugh, the Asian in me!)

So life... this year, I promise to just show up.

Bring it!