Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dear Brides-To-Be, your wedding day is important but not that important.

First of all, don't get fooled by the title. Keep reading.

Second of all, this post goes out to all prospective brides and grooms out there (the brides-to-be, particularly). Preparing the big day is both exciting and tiresome, especially if you take care of the whole thing. And yes, it's both possible and impossible to take care of literally the WHOLE thing. And if you happen to be a bride-to-be who's preparing a small, intimate, on-budget wedding without any help of wedding organizer nor any other kind of organizer, with some help from your close ones, and your husband-to-be happens to be out of town (or out of country) and cannot physically be there for you most of the times, then.. *pat in the back* I feel you, sister.

We (my husband and I) just survived the wedding thingy almost four months ago. Although it was exciting to welcome our big day (and above it, our marriage life), our wedding preparation also involved tears and drama. My husband-to-be (now my husband, and I can call him "husband" for thousands of time and still get excited about that - yay, newlyweds!) was working out of the country and cannot be there for me most of the times (not physically - yes spiritually), and from the very beginning we decided not to hire any wedding organizer and such (mostly, to cut the budget). So, using some skills learned and experienced shared during my good old days working as an event (mostly wedding) decorator and some helps from closest ones, I took care of the preparation and details.

FYI, I'm such a perfectionist and details oriented, so you can imagine how the preparation went on. My friends constantly reminded me not to be such a Bridezilla. Now, let me tell you: there's no such thing as Bridezilla. It's your wedding day, your once-in-a-lifetime moment; you have every right to want it to be perfect! That's not fair to compare your bride-to-be mode to any kind of fictional giant creature which randomly wanders around the city and destroys everything.

There's no such thing as Bridezilla, but perhaps, you can be the overthinking and overstressed one - BUT you don't have to be one! I tell you why: just like any other day, you will get through it. Also, because I'm here to share some things you might want to know about preparing the big day (based on my own experience), either you are about to do it or you are in the middle of it. Those things are important, yet not that important to stress you out. So my brides-to-be and survived brides, let's hold hands and tell ourselves we are strong, we are young, heartache to heartache we stand, no promises, no demands, love is a battlefield! (Benatar, 1983)

1. Money is important but not that important.
Of course, you need money to pay for everything, but really, contrary to what Meja said, it's not all about the money. This one happens especially here in Indonesia: some people are still holding back from taking the plunge and getting married because they think getting married is expensive. Yes, we have to be realistic, but if "getting married" here means THE wedding party, I will say, cut the crap. You can even have a million bucks and just have a small holy matrimony attended by your parents only and legally get married. Getting married is not about the party; it's about something bigger that awaits you. Besides, here's some secret, don't worry about the money because, believe it or not, when there's a will there's a way, and yes it applies to your wedding preparation, too. Been there done that.

2. Staying on budget is important but not that important.
So what I'm trying to say is that stay true to what you can afford, but still be open to any unexpected spending and don't be stressed out because of it. What if I tell you: if you can stay on your planned spreadsheet, that's good, but it's okay and common if you go a little bit over budget. My wedding was a bit over budget and I spent more than I had planned on catering, decoration, and entertainment. I don't regret it at all. The most important thing is that you don't pass your limitation. Also, you sincerely think it's worth it. That's all. Plus, you'll find some areas will cost less than they're expected. Therefore, it's important to do some actual research and, of course, the markup! Yes, I know you have so many homeworks to do, but you can do it! *superhug*

3. Sticking to the plan is important but not that important.
Maybe you have a dream wedding. Maybe it is a small wedding with only 100 guests max in all-white. However, your parents need to invite their friends, their friends' friends, their friends' friends' friends, and everyone in the neighborhood. Plus, they hate white. Don't freak out, don't stress out. Along the way, you'll be surprised that you can actually adjust to many things. The magic word is to compromise. Perhaps you can go with 300 guests, but you still want the white because it's your color. Or perhaps you can go with colorful, but you want to stick with your guest list. That's just an example, though. I'm not suggesting you to give up everything you love for your wedding. It's your wedding and you deserve to have everything based on your preference. It's just, some things are not important to fight over, especially when it makes you stressed or even worse, think of canceling the whole thing. It's like, you can have your dream wedding dress and nobody can tell you it's not a nice dress, but maybe you can let your bridesmaids choose theirs. Yeah, that stuff.

4. Taking care of and knowing all the details is important but not that important.
As I said before, we didn't hire any wedding organizer and such. Thus, we (okay, mostly I) took care of everything including the teeny tiny detail. We were pretty lucky that it was a simple party. I can't imagine, though, if it was a big one. It's okay to know (and want to) handle the details of your own wedding. I mean, again, it's YOUR wedding. You want to be involved. You want to make sure you love it. But then again, you only have two hands, two feet, and limited time. Sometimes you just need to know the idea and leave the detail to your trusted ones. Yes, having those (family or close friends) that you can trust is really important. Make sure they get what you want and what you like. Trust me, on the d-day you won't care about the damn table cloth nor where your decorator put the vases. On our wedding day, our photo backdrop came right when the party was over, and we were like "whatever". We didn't have time to really think about the detail because there were many more important things, such as the wedding vow.

5. Staying away from the drama is important, I mean, really really important. But not that important.
I have a mixed feeling about this one. Yes, staying away from the drama is REALLY important. As someone who has survived, I can say that putting too much energy and emotion to this is not that important. However, as the one who has been through this, I can say that I feel you, ladies (and maybe gentlemen)! *pat in the back* I mean, if you want to cry, just cry, seriously, just CRY! I think it's also "normal" if you become more sensitive than ever. For heaven's sake, you are preparing your once-in-a-lifetime day! Just know your limit. You deserve to be a "queen", but not that "drama queen". If you have something in mind or if you find something annoys you, communicate it with your spouse or your closest ones. Let them help. It's your day, but don't refuse any helping hand.

6. Having second opinions is important but not that important.
So sometimes you're not sure about your dress. Sometimes you're not sure about your catering menu. Sometimes you're not sure about the music. Having second opinions from others is important to help you consider your choices, but really not that important. I know (because I often do this) that sometimes you already know exactly what you want and want others to support your decision. However, sometimes it doesn't turn out well: the other person has a totally different opinion and it stresses you (which doesn't have to, but hey, look at point 5). If you're in this position (just want to reassure your choice), talk to those who has the same taste with you. Or those who you know will support you. Yes, you must have that one person (I mean, come on, you are going to marry him)

7. Sharing things with your husband-to-be is important. NO BUTS.
Maybe not all, but most brides-to-be I know have the same complaint: their husband-to-be doesn't really care about this, and by this, I mean the colors, the details, the flowers, the foods.... Well, I will say: no, ladies, you're wrong. They do care, but maybe not as deep as you. And they did it mostly because they trust your taste. My husband didn't really concern about the details because he trusted me. He knew I could pick the best one. Also, the fact that he was miles away and I was the one who can communicate well with my vendors was also why. However, it didn't mean that I left him and let him come to our wedding not knowing anything. There, ladies, it's important to still ask their opinion, to make sure they know what's going on. Maybe it's easier to ask your bridesmaids because, well, I know. But never desert your husband-to-be. It's your day -- his day, too. Trust me, he DOES care.

Preparing your wedding day is sometimes so tiresome that at some point you just want to fast forward to the day. I say, just enjoy it. At some point, especially if you prepare things by yourself, you will miss those days (and that privilege to shop! Yes, that's the best part). Just know your limit and don't push yourself too hard. Of course it's important, it's your wedding day, but it's just a tiny little part of the whole picture: the marriage life itself.

Enjoy and good luck!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hello, Goodbye.. Till we meet again.

Here I am again, going through the graduation goggle. You know, the thing when you are about to leave someone/something/someplace and suddenly everything about them/it is so nice; you think nothing's so bad should keep you away from them. I've been through so many graduation goggles, and I guess this one is not just an ordinary 'graduation goggle'.

I'm in the midst of wedding preparation. In fact, I'm getting married in less than 2 weeks! Yes! I'm going to move out of this place, this town, this country after I get married, following my husband (it's still weird using the word 'husband', oh how time flies) who's working abroad. That also means that I have to resign from my current job, which I just did because today was my very last day working (Just to remind you, I'm working at an English course.. well, used to..) That also means that I'm on a hiatus in teaching stuff and thingy till I don't know when.

I said goodbye to my classes, including ones I've been teaching for a year; right from the very beginning. In EF (yup, English First, finally mentioned the name), I rarely teach the same class for a long period of time. After one term, things can happen. Either the students don't continue studying because of this and that or they move to another class because the schedule doesn't fit them anymore... or because there are new classes and the course consultants should arrange the schedule which can fit the teachers' schedule (like solving puzzles) and so on so on. Among all of the classes I teach (yes, let's just use a present tense), there are two classes that I've been teaching forever (as long as I teach there). One is a class of ten junior high students and the other is a class of four elementary kids (we call them the little rascals, because, well, you guess. But they're one of my favorite. Smart and wonderful little rascals.)

Yesterday was the last time teaching the junior high kids and today was the last time teaching the elementary kids. These past two days, I'm constantly reminded that, well, I will no longer teach them :( yesterday, my junior high kids gave me a little farewell surprise involving a sweet note, flower, pictures of us, chocolates, cake, and candles. As their teacher, I've never even expected it. I know we had good times together; me being a *cough* cool *cough* teacher yet (kinda) strict sometimes when they're out of boundaries, and them being energic-sometimes-annoying-but-mostly-fun-and-motivated teenagers. Still, I've never expected the togetherness has grown in us. I'm proud of them; I'm proud of myself. (At least, you've been a good teacher, Sekar *pat in the back*)

As for today, I had some photo sessions with the little rascals, which was fun. I did ask one of the students who (sort of) had the most fight with me during our learning sessions over the past year because of this and that (a 9-year-old boy, I won't be surprised :p) whether he would be happy due to my leaving. He said, "I'm not happy, Miss. Other teachers cannot play ukulele." I laughed. This one boy loves singing and music so much. Yes, I once did a lets-sing-along-song session. I gave them the lyric of Sound of Music's Do-Re-Mi and brought my ukelele to the class. I played the ukulele, they sang the song.. It was the most relaxing learning session for me as the teacher and for them too. I'm gonna miss the moment. I'm gonna miss the kids, too *ah this stupid little thing in my eyes :'(

There are also some classes I'm just about to get close to. Today I had a great time with my last class of the day, sharing things with them. They are three senior high students with lots of story about school life, friendship, and love. Wish I could stay longer to know them better.

And EF in general.. sure I'm gonna miss everything. The teaching job there isn't a 9-to-5 job, but it feels like it. No, I'm not talking about the loads and stuff. I'm talking about the experienced shared, the good times had, the friendship made, and the bonds created. I'm gonna miss the random chit-chat in the teacher room, gonna miss the light to heavy convos with the ccs at the front desk, gonna miss rushing to the 2nd floor because I'm almost late, gonna miss grading and filling in the endless progress reports... there's just a lot to be missed. It's not about leaving a workplace and co-workers. It even didn't feel like working, I guess. It felt like playing with the kids, sharing things with friends, having good times.

I remember a year ago, I walked to that place for the sake of new experience and killing times while finishing my last semester of college. Today I walked out of that place proudly because I've learned a lot, I've done many things I thought I'd never do, I've discovered my passion, and I've found a new family.

Hope to see them again

*p.s and I miss teaching already. But yeah, let's focus on the wedding and moving out thingy first..so excited! Gonna share it on the next post, sooner or later.

Monday, September 29, 2014

I teach; what is your superpower?

"Have you ever dreamed of being a teacher?"

That question was popped by my student when she and I were having a session last Saturday. We were playing a sort of board game; something like snakes and ladders, only each box was filled with question. It was a game slash speaking practice.

Yes, I am a teacher; to be specific, an English teacher. I teach English as a foreign language for classes in an English school and for some kids (and adults too) as their private teacher. I've been teaching English since I was a second year college student. Now, teaching is my main job, or let's just say, I'm doing many things (that includes yoga and blogging), but teaching is something I'm currently mostly doing (if you don't count sleeping in, of course)

Back to the question, have I ever dreamed of being a teacher? The answer is no. As a child, I remember dreaming of being a doctor (that's soooo mainstream, I know), a flight attendant (cause my mom was, and she still is), an interior design (it's somewhat sophisticated for a 10-year-old girl to dream of being one), a journalist, a children stories writer (still dreaming, though), an I-dont-know-what-the-exact-job-is-but-someone-who-works-at-embassy, etc etc... but never a teacher. Not that I didn't like being a teacher (or didn't like some of my teachers back then because they were oh-so annoying and gave me hard times... absolutely not), it was just not my dream. Why I then became a teacher is another story. Maybe I'll share about it later on my next post. The point is that, yes I'm a teacher now, and though I don't consider it to be my forever main job (still have many things in mind, things I'm more passionate about), I love this job. Even if someday I  decide to take another job as my main job, I won't let go of teaching completely (talking about being a private/part-time/freelance teacher or someday a teacher slash *cough* mother *cough*).

Many people may underestimate us teachers, mostly because of how much money we make per month. I mean, come on, that's such a conventional way of thinking. Being a teacher doesn't always mean being underpaid, although, sad but true, it happens in many cases and still an issue (dear government, here's your homework). Better yet, it's not always about the cha-ching. Mindset, people. I'll tell you why I love being a teacher and personally think teaching is one of the coolest job ever:

1. It makes me (feel) forever young. In my case, my students are mostly elementary and high school students. Interacting with kids makes me forget my real age (which I get reminded again once a year on my birthday). I unconsciously keep up with them. Their favorite things, movies, music, the trends.. how being a teacher has made me a teenager again. True story.

2. Working with kids doesn't feel like working. It's like playing while transferring the skill and knowledge we have to them, only I'm paid to do so.

3. I keep on learning. It's very true that teaching keeps our knowledge and skill refreshed. Not only does it make me won't lose our knowledge and skill, it also helps me improving it. The students learn, so do I. Not to mention, brand new knowledge and skills like the art of taking care of different types of kid, the art of talking to children, the art of being patient, etc. I'm so proud of myself. Ha.

4. Being a teacher means expecting the unexpected. Everyday is a new day, and teachers take that literally. As for me, I always have stories to share after I finish my classes. One day, a kid gets mad at me because he's not allowed to play his iPad during the class (parents, hello?). The other day, a group of kids makes a horror movie script about a walking vegetable for their write-a-script assignment. I cannot walk into classroom and expect things will be just the same as the day before. And of course, you have to make sure you'll survive the day.

5. Teaching different kinds of student makes me believe that everyone is special. I have a 4-year-old student who's really talented at music. Not to mention, he has a very different musical taste compared to any other kids at his age. I also have a student who's really active, like a pinball, and never looks tired. I also have a student who's very smart, yet so talkative and sometimes talk too much that it disturbs the other students. Thing is, we cannot treat each and everyone in the exact same way.

6. The love from the students is one of the best. Even just a little bit of "Miss, can I sit next to you?" can brighten up my day instantly. This includes the love-and-hate relationships, too.

7. The feeling when the students enjoy (or simply understand) the lesson that we teach them is beyond inexplicable. It's something that money can't buy. James Brown has the words for it, though: "I feel good".

etc etc. (teachers, you may want to add something to the list)

I personally think that teaching is challenging yet fun. Not an easy thing to do, clearly. Most of the times, it requires me to think out of the box, to handle things that look impossible, and to push myself to the limit. Clearly, teaching is a superpower *smirk*. It's true that I never dreamed of being a teacher before, but Peter Parker never dreamed of being a Spiderman, too. And yet he's good at it.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

To sum up my year.

It's been ages since my last post, and many things have changed since then. For better, for worse. Mostly for better. And I have two most important events coming up!

First, I am counting days to my graduation day... FINALLY! After years of laughter and tears (mostly tears, probably), I will finally attend my own graduation day. To be there, it was a long and windy road. By long, I mean literally long. Who needed 6 years to finally grab their degree? Me! ME! Yes, 6 years, and no, it doesn't mean I failed at some subjects or anything. I graduated with a good GPA (*cough* 3.5 *cough*) with good records, no failing at anything, except one thing... I failed finishing my undergraduate thesis. When I saw my thesis wouldn't go anywhere because of *this* and *that*, I finally decided to save my degree by drop the subject. To replace the credits and in order to graduate, I need to take more classes last semester and upload a journal paper. It was a tough decision to finally stop doing things I had started like years ago and to start cleaning the mess. If you start asking me "Why, Sekar, why didn't you for-God's-sake finish the damn thesis? WHY?", I have asked myself some questions too. Questions like, "why did you decide to work (as in actual job) while (trying to) finish(ing) your thesis?", "why did you decide to stay with the topic?", "why did you decide to write a thesis without any preparation and specific goal, when you could actually take a non-thesis program and graduate sooner? (when in the end, I took the program anyway. Only later)", and stuff and stuff. But hey, screw that, I HAVE finished my study. End of story.

Second, I am getting married. *I know, I KNOW, it's huge* Although we haven't decided the exact date, the holy matrimony will be held next year, in January or February. I am so excited. Do you remember the guy I previously told you on my one or two previous posts? Turns out, he is the one :) I don't know whether saying this will make me sound so cheese, but hey, let me BE cheesy. We have discussed this marriage thingy few months ago or so. We knew that we were having something serious. But the day he popped the question and I said "I do" only happened a couple of weeks ago. You know, I had been dreaming of a fairy tale-ish surprise proposal with flashmob, probably with fancy dinner (optional), with picture perfect moments happy tears, with a beautiful diamond ring, my man on his knee, and of course a perfect manicured nails. Well, it didn't happen that way. My proposal involved my man asking me a quick question (no knee involved) with crystal-clear answer, as clear as "well, duh" (I know, I didn't say "I do"), and a beautiful but over-sized ring (so we had to find a shop that could resize it the very next day. And found!). No flashmob nor fancy dinner. Just a very private moment between the two of us, at my house, after having a long tiring day. Yet still, it felt like fairy tale, only it WAS real (and thank God my nails were well-manicured). It is real. I am getting married to the man, the one I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with. We are now preparing everything. I admit, it stresses me out sometimes. I want the day to be "perfect". But then, I'll sit back and think, what can be any more perfect that marrying my best friend? Yes, we are still working on some details, anyway ;)

Third, life is a choice. I know I said two, and this is not even an event, but I just want to tell you this (perhaps more on the next post). There are just many things happened and came to me in these past few years that have made me grow stronger and (hopefully) wiser. They came with choices and decisions that may lead me to different results and roads. One thing that I have learned: no look back. Because those choices and decisions, they got away. More are coming, and I'd better focus on them. Better yet, I should focus on what I AM doing and IS happening right now.

Seize the day,

Monday, March 3, 2014

Now that's what I call 'being happy'!

"You're not happy. You only think you're happy because you feel happy." – Lily, How I Met Your Mother.

I was watching How I Met Your Mother, one of my favorite American situation comedy series, when I found that very line. It was said by Lily, one of the main casts, to Barney, another main cast. In that episode, Barney was falling in love with a woman named Robin, but they chose not to define their relationship. Lily, who were friends with both Barney and Robin, thought that they had to talk about it, while both Barney and Robin didn't think that talking was necessary. Long story short, Lily didn't think that the uncoupled couple was happy, so she yelled out the line. Barney answered it with a question, "And that's not happy?" Frankly, that is also my question. If it isn't considered as happy then what is happy? How we define happy? How we define happiness?

Happiness is an abstract noun. Not only is it literally untouchable and invisible, but it's also undefined. Or in contrast, it's multi-defined. When it comes to what happiness means, we can ask hundreds of people to get hundreds of confused faces and mumbled words, or we can ask thousands of people to get thousands of different answers. But then, despite the fact that happiness is a sort of hard-to-be-defined word, it turns out that Dictionary.com has described it the best: "hap•pi•ness [hap-ee-nis] –noun 1. the quality or state of being happy." Brava, online dictionary! Happiness is that simple.

We may get some confused faces and mumbled words when we ask what happiness is, and it's simply because happiness is a state of being happy. We are just being happy, what else to describe? Happiness occurs when we know that we are happy; we feel happy. Happiness is what makes us feel happy when we're supposed to be unhappy.

We may also get various answers when we ask what happiness is, and it's simply because happiness is a state of being happy that each person bears in their own mind. Thus, obviously, nobody can feel exactly what we feel but ourselves. That's why my happiness is different from yours. That's why I can't judge your happiness, and you can't also judge mine. If Lily thinks that being in a complicated relationship is sort of unhappiness, she may be right because that's what she feels. But then, she can't say that Barney is unhappy because she can't exactly feel Barney.

Combining the undefined and the multi-defined version of happiness, we can say that happiness is a matter of perspective; happiness is a state of mind. It may seem to come out of nowhere, but actually it can be both something that comes as a response to an event and something that we ourselves create. If my mother comes to me and hand me a gift, I will feel happy. That happiness just comes out to me and hangs on my mind. I will probably be disappointed when I find out that the gift isn't what I really want, but if I can see it from any different perspective, I can still be happy. That happiness is what I create for my own good from a thing called being positive. That’s why my happiness is probably not your happiness, and that's why it is also hard to define. It quite explains the inexplicable, doesn't it?

Happiness is a state of mind; it's my state of mind and your state of mind. It's too broad to explain yet too narrow. Some random Lily may come to us and say, "You're not happy. You only think you're happy because you feel happy." Instead of asking ourselves what happiness is, we’d better reply, "Now that's what I call 'being happy'!"

P.s. I wrote this years ago, back when I was in college for my journalism class' assignment. I just feel like posting it here now.