That Miracle…

Waiting is something that I hate the most. But I understand the happiness of waiting when I met you. Our encounter is not like a flow of a river to me, instead it is more like seeing a northern light in the darkness. I remember, the feelings inflicted within me when the first time I saw a northern light. I was so amazed and surprised to know that from that deepest darkness I ever saw, there was beautiful light came out suddenly. “How come?”, I asked myself. At that moment, for the first time in my life, I understand completely what is the meaning of hope. That feelings as well that I felt on the first day I met you. Though that moment is the one when I expected the least to meet someone who will enter my life in a true and long-lasting sense. I was deeply broken hearted and devastated after my last relationship. I have no more energy at all to start a new relationship, even to put together the thousand crumbs of me. I saw you through the door, and spontaneously you saw me in the same time. I waved my hand to you and smiled with my tired face and feeling of relief, since I finally arrived at home. Without me asking you, you helped me with all my bags and luggage and said,” Where have you been? You just here one day and suddenly fieww….you are gone”. Since then, I knew you paid attention to me, you wanted to see me, and you liked me. But still, at that moment I was so tired mentally after the breakup, and just wanted to be left alone. Then, when I just enjoying my coffee and talked to my friend about a famous Latino’s cafe in Amsterdam which I really wanted to visit, you overheared the conversation and said,” There is one a good latino’s cafe here. It is such a nice place. Do you want to see that place?”, you asked me. “Really? Of course I want to see it”, I answered. At that time, I never thought it would be a date for you. To me, it is just an invitation to see a place that I haven’t seen before. And you will be my guide. After that, you brought my bags and luggage to my room at the third floor. Then you asked me my cell phone number. From your trembling voice I could realize how nervous you were for asking me that question. Or perhaps because we were just alone for the first time? I gave you my numbers without any expectation, whatsoever.

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If you love, love openly!

Found a story about love today. It’s about one of the ways to test whether someone who said loves you, do really loves you. However simple this story, nevertheless, it is so true! +)

Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master.

Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.

Eshun did not reply. The following day the master gave a lecture to the group, and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who had written to her, she said: “If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.”

It Is Well, It Is Well with Your Soul

Our togetherness is begun around 20 years ago. He works for our family since I was in junior high school. His name is Pak Sulkan, but he often writes it as Solkan. I remember the first time he tried to drive our car, he looked so scared due to the busy traffic in Jakarta. He said to my parents, “Pak, Bu, I think I just want to quit my job. The traffic here is so busy, I am afraid I will hit the car one day”. But my parents said to him, ” Do not worry, Pak Sulkan, even though you hit another car or motorbike, we will pay for the damage. Just learn how to drive carefully slowly until you feel confident doing it. We are sure you can drive well eventually”. Since that day, and a few days later, he already drives the car better, and better, until yesterday. Often he said to me, “Non, after you graduated from senior high-school I will stop to be a driver. I want to go home and open a small warung so I can spend more time with my family”. But until I completed my senior high-school, he still works and lives with my family. A few years later he told me again, “Non, after you completed your bachelor degree, I will stop to work ya Non”. And yet, he was still working and driving me everywhere I go. The same sentence he told me again and again, but what is changed is only the sentence after “until…”. Until I completed my master degree in Norway, until I almost complete my second master degree in the Netherlands. The last time I heard him he said this to me, “Non, if you get married and have a family, I will live with and work for you ya, non”. I am smiled and said in my heart, “You will live with us but not for working, but to enjoy life as a family”. I remember when I was graduated for my bachelor degree in Psychology. On my graduation day, seeing me with the graduation clothes, he was crying. Like a father who saw his daughter has finally succeeded in completing her study, over the ups and downs of life, he was crying for me out of happiness and relief. My mom was also crying. Since that day, I know that a graduation day is held not for the students who are going to graduate but for the parents, the care taker, and the significant others who shed tears to support and be with you along the way. Looking back now, I was amazed with our togetherness. He was there when my father passed away, he was there the first time I fell in love, he knew all my boyfriends, from the first until know, he has met all my best friends, he was with me when I was celebrating Christmas and new years, and he was still there with me when I got my first scholarship and job. While I am studying in the Netherlands, Pak Sulkan is the one who often picks up the phone when I was calling home. During our conversation, he often asks, “Non, what is the English word for hati-hati?” or “Non, how to say in English terima kasih kembali?” And in the end of our conversation, to show me proudly that he can speak a bit English he used to say, “OK non, be careful ya non…”. But I guess I will never hear him asking me those questions and words again. Yesterday, June 17th, in his sleeping he passed away. Through a phonecall my mom called me and told me the saddest news in my life. “Pak Sulkan, inang, Pak Sulkan….” Without her needs to complete her sentences, I knew what is the news all about. A whole day long I tried to convince myself this is just a dream. I asked myself, “Why do people have to die?” In the train along the way to Groningen, I saw the faces of people sitting in front of me and I was asking myself these questions, “How do each of these people will die one day? What is the use that girl studying now if she can die tomorrow? What is the use she wears that beautiful clothes, high heels, and everything if one day she will loose all of them? What is the use that man is working so hard, does he realize one day he will die and cannot enjoy the fruit of his works?” Now I remember the truth of a wisdom, “Then I saw all the works which my hands had made, and everything I had been working to do; and I saw that all was to no purpose and desire for wind, and there was no profit under the sun”. Perhaps this time God wants to teach me to count my days wisely, to give all my worries and plans to Him. Perhaps He wants to show me that His plans are not mine. Or perhaps He wants to remind me that life is so short, therefore I should choose thoroughly which things are precious and priceless in this life. But to be honest, I have no answers for these questions lord, “Why do unfortunate things happen to good people?, why good people like Pak Sulkan must live life shortly than those bad people?”. However, only one thing is crystal clear to me now. Indeed, death comes like a thief the lord has said. He can come in the most unexpected moments, even in our sleeping. Every night I ask god to protect all the people I care and love from the evil, unfortunate things, and bad people. Still, I forget to ask Him to endow them a longer life. But since tonight, I promise to myself I will ask God this: Father, I still want to see and enjoy every moment of my life with all my beloved ones. Please give us more time to be together. Have mercy on us, o Lord. Pak Sulkan, selamat jalan. May you rest in peace. In the true peace which only God can give. You don’t need to wake up every morning again to work. You don’t need to worry about your family anymore. You don’t need to drive me any longer. “All is well, all is well with your soul, Pak Sulkan”. This is my prayer to you…

A book review of “The songs of the bird” by Anthony de Mello

 
This book is actually a ‘summary’ version of several books of de Mello, but now it is in a comic version. In the beginning I thought it will be the same with the ones that I have read (I have read ALL Tony’s books!), but I found it is so refreshing! With the pictures that so vivid and expressive, I didn’t feel bore at all to read it again and again. I think the idea to ‘re-write’ it in visual way is brilliant! Many of the stories in this book are about religions and human relations. However, Tony has succeeded to make me see my faith from another point of view, particularly about how I do it as a ‘ritual’. He has really broadened my horizon! On the back of the book, you will find the short biography of Tony, written by his younger brother. It makes this book has a personal touch, also I can feel ‘closer’ to Tony. When I read it for the first time, I was not feeling really good about my life, but somehow it gave me strength and urged me to see my life from (again) a broader horizon and very different angle. This is the speciality and precious talent of Tony I believe. I wish I can meet him before he passed away. However, I am still so grateful every time I read Tony’s books. I realize, when I read his I am convinced he is really an enlightened man. The one in the millions! In conclusion, this book is really recommended to read (as also for other books of Tony). For those who feel hopeless, confused, and feel down because of your life situations (whatever it is), read this book and you will laughing at yourself, your life, and your silly and normative ways in seeing life! Below is one of his words I remember and like the most: 
 “Pulanglah sendiri, kembalilah ke indramu! Apakah kau dengar burung berkicau? Bagaimana kau dapat mendengar lagunya, bukan penyanyinya? Bagaimana kau dapat melihat ombaknya, bukan lautnya? Bagaimana kau dapat melihat tariannya, bukan penarinya?” 

Abide with me, Father…

Guru, tidakkah engkau akan mengunjungi aku?

Kata-kata di atas adalah pertanyaan yang tidak ada dalam benak saya selama saya menjadi relawan di Aceh. Mustahil rasanya bertemu dengan Bapa dalam pesta meriah yang selalu diselenggarakannya setiap hari Minggu itu. Bagi saya, pesta itu adalah sesuatu yang sangat istimewa, meskipun saya menyadari saya bisa bertemu denganNya setiap hari, di mana saja dan kapan saja. Namun, bagi saya pesta adalah pesta. Saat istimewa yang memang diluangkan untuk bersama-sama dengan orang-orang yang kita cintai. Menjadi istimewa karena begitu banyak waktu, energi, dan perhatian yang harus disediakan untuk menyelengarakan suatu pesta, yang mungkin hanya berlangsung 1-2 jam. Bagi saya, pesta adalah bukti cinta, sama halnya dengan menulis surat untuk orang yang kita kasihi. Betapa banyak cinta yang diberikan untuk memilih surat dan amplop, menuliskannya, dan mengantarkannya ke kantor pos? Memang ini adalah cara klasik, tapi saya lebih menyukainya karena tidak segera, sekaligus membuktikan bahwa sang pengirim sungguh-sungguh berniat untuk melakukannya, bukan sekedar sambil lalu. Namun, pesta berbeda dengan surat karena membutuhkan kehadiran yang seutuhnya, secara fisik dan psikologis. Tidak seperti surat yang bisa diwakili oleh kertas dan pena. Kehadiran dalam pesta menjadi penting karena kita sendiri yang harus sungguh-sungguh hadir di sana. Bukan hanya untuk menghargai undangan sang pembuat pesta, tapi juga untuk merasakan kebahagiaannya, mendengar tawanya, melihatnya menyanyi dan menari, bahkan mungkin mabuk bersama karena turut berbahagia. Bagaimana mungkin kita dapat merasakan semua itu dengan sungguh-sungguh jika kita tidak hadir di sana seutuhnya, jiwa dan raga? Oleh karena itulah, pesta yang diselenggarakan oleh Bapa menjadi istimewa buat saya. Terlebih ketika saya tidak dapat hadir untukNya secara istimewa pula. Sedih rasanya berada di padang gurun yang begitu jauh dari rumah Bapa. Saya tahu cintanya selalu bersama saya, namun tetap rumah adalah rumah. Tempat saya berlari-lari pulang, dan sungguh-sungguh merasa diterima. Tempat pesta diadakan, sebagai tanda cintaNya untuk saya. Sekarang, saya berada sangat jauh dari rumah saya sendiri. Seperti rusa merindukan air, saya merindukan keriaan itu, bukti cinta Bapa kepada saya yang begitu meriah, dalam, dan mengharukan. Namun, pagi ini seseorang menyampaikan kabar, bahwa akan ada pesta yang sama dengan pesta yang biasanya diselenggarakan oleh Bapa. Saya terkejut dan heran, “Mana mungkin ada pesta di tengah padang gurun?”. Tetapi, hati ini terlanjur rindu, maka saya pun memutuskan untuk datang dengan perasaan yang luar biasa gembira. Pesta dimulai seperti biasa. Segala sesuatunya sama, sampai ketika sang penyelengara hadir dan menunjukkan diri. Saya terkesima atas kehadiranNya. Ternyata yang hadir adalah Bapa sendiri dengan sangat bersahaja. Meskipun pakaian yang dikenakanNya jauh lebih sederhana, namun saya tetap mengenalnya. Saya mengenal sapaanNya, saya merasakan ketulusan cintaNya. Kebersahajaannyalah yang justru membuat saya yakin bahwa Dia sungguh-sungguh hadir untuk saya. Saya percaya, dia sengaja tampil lebih bersahaja agar dapat melewati segala rintangan untuk sampai di padang gurun ini agar dapat menjumpai saya. Bagi saya ini sungguh tidak terduga. Lalu ketika Bapa menghampiri saya, dan berkata, “Inilah tubuhku…inilah darahku yang Kuberikan kepadamu”, saya menangis. Menangis bahagia atas cintaNya yang sungguh besar untuk saya, namun juga menangis karena malu atas keraguan saya terhadap cintaNya. Betapa kecil harapan saya atas keinginanNya untuk menyertai saya, betapa saya tidak tahu apa-apa tentang Dia. Kemudian setiap yang hadir diberi kesempatan untuk menyapaNya, dengan kekaguman, dengan harapan, bahkan dengan keraguan. Sebenarnya, saya ingin menyampaikan sesuatu, tapi saya tidak tahu pasti apa itu dan bagaimana memulainya. Akhirnya saya hanya berkata, “Maafkan saya karena meragukanMu”. Bapa hanya tersenyum, namun Dia menjawab saya dengan tatapan yang mengerti. Pesta usai. Meskipun tidak semeriah biasanya namun kali ini adalah pesta teristimewa bagi saya. PerjalananNya yang jauh dan sulit untuk sejenak bersama saya serentak menghapus dahaga dan kelelahan. Di akhir pesta, saya menghampiri dan meminta kepadaNya, “Tinggalah sertaku, Bapa”. Seketika ia tertawa terbahak dan menggeleng-gelengkan kepalaNya. Seolah-olah saya masih tidak mengerti maksud kedatanganNya kali ini. Lalu Ia mendekat dan berbisik, “Aku akan datang mengunjungimu, ke mana pun engkau pergi. Percayalah”.

Golden rules to finding a life-partner

Today I found this article, and I like it! I think what he wrote is so true. At least I am agreed with him. So, just in case I need to read it again (since I haven’t got married and I think I need to ‘listen’ more from others who have more experiences than me on marriage) before I really make up my mind to get marry, then I post this article here. Hope it is useful as well for everybody who are still trying to figure out whether they want or need to get marry in this life or not. And I hope more people read about this and think reflectively afterward about their way of choosing life-partner.

Written by Dov Heller, M.A. Taken from “http://richgrad.com/finding-and-keeping-a-life-partner”

When it comes to making the decision about choosing a life partner, no one wants to make a mistake. Yet, with a divorce rate of close to 50%, it appears that many are making serious mistakes in their approach to finding Mr./Miss. Right!

If you ask most couples who are engaged why they’re getting married, they’ll say: “We’re in love“; I believe this is the 1 mistake people make when they date. Choosing a life partner should never be based on love. Though this may sound “not politically correct“, there’s a profound truth here.

Love is not the basis for getting married. Rather, love is the result of a good marriage. When the other ingredients are right, then the love will come. Let me say it again: “You can’t build a lifetime relationship on love alone“; You need a lot more!!!

Here are five questions you must ask yourself if you’re serious about finding and keeping a life partner.

QUESTION ..1: Do we share a common life purpose?

Why is this so important? Let me put it this way: If you’re married for 20 or 30 years, that’s a long time to live with someone. What do you plan to do with each other all that time? Travel, eat and jog together? You need to share something deeper and more meaningful.You need a common life purpose.

Two things can happen in a marriage: (1) You can grow together, or (2)you can grow apart. 50% of the people out there are growing apart.

To make a marriage work, you need to know what you want out of life!

Bottom line; marry someone who wants the same thing.

QUESTION ..2: Do I feel safe expressing my feelings and thoughts with this person?

This question goes to the core of the quality of your relationship.

Feeling safe means you can communicate openly with this person. The basis of having good communication is trust – i.e. trust that I won’t get “punished”; or hurt for expressing my honest thoughts and feelings. A colleague of mine defines an abusive person as someone with whom you feel afraid to express your thoughts and feelings. Be honest with yourself on this one. Make sure you feel emotionally safe with the person you plan to marry.

QUESTION ..3: Is he/she a mensch?

A mensch is someone who is a refined and sensitive person. How can you test? Here are some suggestions.

Do they work on personal growth on a regular basis? Are they serious about improving themselves? A teacher of mine defines a good person as “someone who is always striving to be good and do the right “;. So ask about your significant other: What do they do with their time? Is this person materialistic? Usually a materialistic person is not someone whose top priority is character refinement.

There are essentially two types of people in the world: (1) People who are dedicated to personal growth and (2) people who are dedicated to seeking comfort. Someone whose goal in life is to be comfortable will put personal comfort ahead of doing the right thing. You need to know that before walking down the aisle.

QUESTION ..4: How does he/she treat other people?

The one most important thing that makes any relationship work is the ability to give. By giving, we mean the ability to give another person pleasure.

Ask: Is this someone who enjoys giving pleasure to others or are they wrapped up in themselves and self-absorbed?

To measure this, think about the following: How do they treat people whom they do not have to be nice to, such as waiters, bus boys, taxi drivers, etc.. How do they treat their parents and siblings? Do they have gratitude and appreciation?

If they don’t have gratitude for the people who have given them everything; can you do nearly as much for them? You can be sure that someone, who treats others poorly, will eventually treat you poorly as well.

QUESTION ..5: Is there anything I’m hoping to change about this person after we’re married?

Too many people make the mistake of marrying someone with the intention of trying to “improve” them after they’re married. As a colleague of mine puts it: “You can probably expect someone to change after marriage for the worse” If you cannot fully accept this person the way they are now, then you are not ready to marry them.

In conclusion, dating doesn’t have to be difficult and treacherous.

The key is to try leading a little more with your head and less with your heart. It pays to be as objective as possible when you are dating; to be sure to ask questions that will help you get to the key issues. Falling in love is a great feeling, but when you wake up with a ring on your finger, you don’t want to find yourself in trouble because you didn’t do your homework.

Another perspective…

There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a distance.. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let go of or at least minimize your time with draining, negative, incompatible, not-going anywhere relationships. Observe the relationships around you.

Pay attention…Which ones lift and which ones lean?

Which ones encourage and which ones discourage?

Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill?

When you leave certain people do you feel better or feel worse?

Which ones always have drama or don’t really understand, know, or appreciate you?

The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you…the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life.

An African proverb states, “Before you get married, keep both eyes open, and after you marry, close one eye“; Before you get involved and make a commitment to someone, don’t let lust, desperation, immaturity, ignorance, pressure from others or a low self-esteem make you blind to warning signs. Keep your eyes open, and don’t fool yourself that you can change someone or that what you see as faults aren’t really that important.

Do you bring out the best in each other?

Do you compliment and compromise with each other, or do you compete, compare and control?

What do you bring to the relationship?

Do you bring past relationships, past hurt, past mistrust, past pain?

You can’t take someone to the altar to alter them. You can’t make someone love you or make someone stay.

If you develop self-esteem, spiritual discernment, and “a life”; you won’t find yourself making someone else responsible for your happiness or responsible for your pain. Seeking status, sex, and security are the wrong reasons to be in a relationship.

WHAT KEEPS A RELATIONSHIP STRONG IS:

1. TRUST

2. COMMUNICATION

3. INTIMACY

4. A SENSE OF HUMOR

5. SHARING TASKS

6. SOME GETAWAY TIME WITHOUT BUSINESS OR CHILDREN

7. DAILY EXCHANGES (meal, shared activity, hug, call, touch, notes, etc.)

8. SHARING COMMON GOALS AND INTERESTS

9. GIVING EACH OTHER SPACE TO GROW WITHOUT FEELING INSECURE

10. GIVING EACH OTHER A SENSE OF BELONGING AND ASSURANCES OF COMMITMENT

If these qualities are missing, the relationship will erode as resentment, withdrawal, abuse, neglect, and dishonesty; and pain will replace.

The Children of Kuala

These are the gang of children I had been  following around during my fieldwork. The picture taken after they finish their school at a yellow, big, UNICEF tent.

I admire their happiness and passion to keep studying, though it is a kind of an emergency school for them. Every morning they walk from home to school, with free clothes and sandals. But when the rain comes, they cannot go to school since the water will come inside the tent. But who wants to study when it rains anyway?

International Marriage Sign

Hahaha….I found this picture so funny and reveal the truth to certain degree of course.

I think whoever has created this picture is a genius and very creative person. Or he/she just has personal experiences related to this pict? Well… whatever the reason is, perhaps we can put this sign in Indonesia, or other pathriachal countries, agreed? 

Is it possible to have flat tummy? My perpetual philosophical question :)

Today, I have been thinking a lot about how to get a flat tummy as I often see on TV. I don’t know why my desire to have a ‘perfect’ J-Lo body is getting stronger these days. Perhaps because yesterday, on my friend’s FB account, I saw a lot of photos of girls wearing bikinis at a beach in Bali!  Oooh of course their tummy is flat! (what are you thinking silly?) That is why they showed it off by wearing bikini, that’s my logic says. So, to fulfill my curiousity, I search on the net about how to make my tummy flatter (well I don’t expect too much, so flatter is enough for me ). But while I was searching, I was wondering perhaps I am just too naive! Don’t these kind of girls didn’t have plastic surgery to achieve that? Or this flat-tummy ideal is just an ilusion? Fortunately, yesterday I watched Dr. Phil’s show, and one of the women said, ” Oooh come on, all of us have this fatty tummy and thigh!” Wow…I was so relief and happy to hear that! It seems god knows my anxious about this flat-tummy thing and he tries to calm me down about it. Anyway, whether to have flat-tummy is just a dream (fortunately I am a dreamer! hehehe) or tumbling-down-but-possible reality, I am sooooo  curious about how to get the tummy of my dream. So here are what I find to make that dream comes true:

10 tummy flattening tips

There’s a quick quide you can follow to help flatten your stomach. Print this list out and post it somewhere in your house where you’ll see it.

1. Walk/jog for 30 minutes at least 3 times per week to boost your metabolism in order to burn that fat.

2. Eat a small handful of almonds (at least 6) every morning. Almonds are one of the healthiest snacks you can eat and the protein is good for burning fat.

3. Purchase a Pilates DVD and do the exercises at least 2-3 times per week. Pilates works on toning your entire body with concentration on your powerhouse (middle section) and will improve your flexibility.

4. Add fiber to your diet and cut down your intake of the bad carbs. Foods such as white bread, pastas, potatoes, and white rice should be limited. Eat brown rice and whole wheat bread instead. To get that needed fiber increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables (especially the leafy green ones).

5. Drink skim milk instead of whole milk. Keep your dairy intake at a minimum because these products often cause bloating and gas.

6. Perform proper crunches at least 3 times a week to train your abs. Avoid sit-ups because they really do very little to firm your stomach. Sit-ups work your hip flexors more than anything else.

7. Drink plenty of water. You should be drinking 6 to 8 glasses per day. Not only will it help fill you up so you eat less, but it aids in digestion.

8. Stop eating within 3 hours of bedtime. If you have to munch on something, eat a small portion of vegetables or fruit. Not eating late can make a huge difference.

9. Eat smaller meals more often instead of 2-3 big meals per day to keep from having that bloated look and feeling. Eating more meals actually kicks up your metabolism.

10. Take a break from healthy eating once in a while and treat yourself to your favorite dessert. If you completely deprive yourself of the foods you love you’ll run the risk of going back to your bad eating habits. Moderation is the key.

Just remember that slow and steady wins the race when it comes to slimming your waistline and flattening your stomach. There’s no such thing as losing your stomach fast. You have to work at it daily and remain consistent with your diet and exercise.

If you remember nothing else, remember this: A flat stomach comes with TOTAL BODY FITNESS – not just from spot toning your stomach with crunches.