My Stories

Shoe Mo’s first overseas expansion!

Earlier this month, Shoe Mo’s first overseas expansion was confirmed! We’re officially a regional brand! I’m definitely excited and proud of the team work.

Now I’m gonna bombard you lots of photos I took from the trip.

Checking out the location

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Technical Training

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Setting it up! Almost there!

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It is also the most efficient work trip of mine. Lots of training, business discussion, site checking – realize I love to set things up and give advice on operation process. I feel energetic and excited whenever I can share how to run Shoe Mo shops, because I’ve been through it and I do believe in our system and processes can save our partners a lot of headache running this type of business.

It was also my first trip to Brunei – interesting to learn about the country’s culture and lifestyle.

1. Lots of big and beautiful mosques. And there are not much of tall building as no buildings are allowed to be taller than the mosque. So I wonder why they don’t just put a mosque on the top of a building haha problem solved.

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2. Malls are small and old school. And it’s hard to find authentic shoes.

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3. Sunset from Empire Hotel is a must see. Lovely and romantic. Perfect to unwind.

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4. Japanese food is cheap and good. There are not much of local cuisine. Or maybe I didn’t explore hard enough.

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Looking forward to more expansion. We have a few down the line, fingers crossed!

Onwards and Upwards,

Ginny.

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Uncategorized

New signature Shoe Mo outlet

It’s a long delay blog, since our Bangsar outlet has been open for 1 month. But now I finally got time to pen down my thoughts.

When Jack said let’s open in Bangsar, I was excited, yet nervous. Bangsar is known to be the one of most expensive area in KL with cut throat rental. It took us a few months to look for location, with a rental that we can afford.

I think we got lucky to get this unit open for rent. The first moment I saw it, I felt in love with these mirror and windows and the natural light that gives life to the space.

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But it’s like, empty – no AC, broken wiring, damage floor. Lots of work need to be done. But loving it so much, we decided to take it. And all I remember is late night discussion on the design, lots of Ikea trips to fill in the furniture, tons of no-name tasks to get it all set up and done.

And finally, we made it.

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It teaches me a big lesson on how to set up retail business – lots of hard work and patience, detail oriented is a MUST. You cannot afford to make mistake because it will cost you twice to fix. Don’t compromise on the workmanship – it has to be good.

I’m lucky to work with dedicate interior designer to fit the design to our budget. And follow up with each and every single details, from M&E to flooring, to even help clean the mirror. Even when we have to cut the counter into half, to be able to carry it upstairs!

After Bangsar outlet completed and in operation, we got a lot of partnership enquiries. This is like a level up in our game, we are taken more serious now. Definitely a step up!

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Here’s to more and more milestones!

Onwards and Upwards,

Ginny.

 

 

 

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My Stories, Uncategorized

What tortures me the most?

Probably repetition – things repeat themselves without any changes.

When I was still in HCMC back then, I constantly changed jobs, 4 companies in 5 years. Well it sounds wrong but I always knew I can’t stick one place for so long, part of the reason is that I know I’m still young and there are plenty of things to try out. I felt the urge of newness here and there – New hairstyle after a couple of months, went to new places every year, met as much of new people as I can. I feel like I constantly in search something new that excites me. I still remember those days when I ran out of things to do, or money to do the things I want, so I just laid there on my bed looking at the ceiling feeling this nervousness eating me inside out – my life is so boring, I am boring, what do I do next? That feeling wasn’t easy to handle.

I decided to move to KL for that simple reason. I felt bored. I wanted to leave the city. The unknown was scary, yet damn exciting. The struggles were real in the new country when you don’t really have the citizen benefits, I always feel out of place, I don’t belong to anywhere, not in my own country, and obviously not in the new country. But, again, the unknown kept me going. I felt this strong power that I can, finally, have the chance to build and lead something my way. I can fix things and make things better. I celebrate (with myself) improvement and changes everyday, like my whole life depends on it.

And yes, my life depends on that kind of belief – that I can create changes and my life doesn’t repeat itself.

If someone asked me what I’m passionate about, I’d say “changes” or better word – “improvements” – I’m better today than I was yesterday – and I will thrive every single day for that.

Onwards and upwards,

Ginny.

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Featured Articles, My Stories, Uncategorized

Shoe Mo goes North

On this day one year ago, me and Jack was painting our first Shoe Mo shop in Petaling Jaya.

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27 Apr 2017, Petaling Jaya

Today, we’re celebrating our 5th stores in Malaysia, Shoe Mo Penang! (Now I can visit Shoe Mo Penang, and get myself some nice char kway teoh!)

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27 Apr 2018 – George Town, PG

No stories can cover all that has happened in the past 1 year, we are expanding and growing, left and right, up and down (of Malaysia). Also, our first product line – shoe cleaner and shoe brush have been produced and on the shelves! Get yourself some here.

Our team has grown from 2 to 12 members, part timer and full timers!

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Team gathering in Apr 2018

I feel excited and nervous as always, for whatever may come.

Onwards and Upwards,

Ginny.

 

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My Stories

Quitting my job for my own start-up. Here’s what I learnt after 1 month.

Yes I know, the tittle does sound like Buzz Feed. 

1. Grass isn’t greener on the other side, in fact, there is no grass. 

Just mud, and a lot of late nights.

The idea of quitting your job, jumping on to the entrepreneur ship and sail to the “promised” island of big fortune is very very sweetening.

I was never a person who dreamt to build a multi-million company, well, it might have crossed my mind but I know, behind the success was sweat and blood, and those aren’t fun. Before I quit, I was doing Shoe Mo part-time, in the mean time trying to catch up with my planned marketing career path. That was tough— sunlighting during the day and moonlighting during the night, constant lamb on your desk, laptop screen flicking at late nights. Yet I found out that after quitting my full time job to focus on Shoe Mo, it’s even harder.

I feel alone (my co-founder hasn’t joined full time yet), I feel the burden of everyday no-name tasks together with the big goals to achieve, who would do financial projections and would also fix the broken lock in the office. I guess it’s me and also me(at the moment).

I wanted to stop. Wouldn’t it be much less headache if I continue to pursuit my career, working from 9-5 and have more time enjoying life? I wouldn’t thought of giving up my own new business until I put both of my feet into it, how ironic is that? Well, it happened, and I know it would happen again.

2. My temper gets better, and worse, but I’m fully aware when I’m getting a temper.

I’m known for my hot head and short-temper, it would not get any better after all this. But I’m glad that I realized when it’s okay to let go of your temper and when it’s not wise to mess things up. I learnt it hard way, both personal life and business life. I would say I become much much more chill than I used to be, and I know it’s a big personal improvement.

Even so, I’m still pretty much suffering from refraining myself, so I keep telling myself emotions are just feedbacks, they are not the solution. Running a team base on emotions is the first mistake to make.

3. Decisions should be made with sufficient data.

When you’re hands on to your business operation, it is extremely to make decisions based on small incidents, because it’s easy to rationalize it. Well, everyone wants to improve things, and improving starting from the smallest things — which I totally agree. Yet, in such a starting phase, we wouldn’t afford to improve everything, prioritizing is key. And how do we know which to prioritize? Based on data. Survey, finance statement, feedbacks, records. I wouldn’t change my whole operation model because 1 or 2 customer made a bad review on it, in fact I carry on customer feedback survey to justify the problem, to understand how bad the situation was, and then we prioritize and take actions.

4. Everyone has role to play. Someone has to be not nice.

I used to wonder how society works. Creator, builder, innovator, motivator, maker, facilitator, connector. It’s mesmerizing. Like looking at a bunch of ants busy doing the job they are destined to do, probably they are not even aware of it.

One significant thing I realized is that most of the time people want to be perceived as nice and amiable by everyone they meet. “He/she’s a nice guy/girl” probably the most soothing compliment everyone wants to hear about themselves. The more educated we are, the more “polite” and “mind-our-own-business” we tend to be. More often than not, we avoid confrontation and speak up for what we believe. We don’t want to be blatant. We avoid awkwardness. But business is blatant and full of awkward moments, lots of mistakes to be addressed, lots of deals to be shamelessly asked for.

I and Jack always have to play good cop bad cop all the time, and I always get the bad guy role to play (ugh). And I got used to it. Having my bad cop hat with me all the time, in case someone has to speak up for righteousness.

5. Not everyone is a suitable one, let them go.

When Shoe Mo was super small and just started, we appreciate all the help we can have, we have early batch of employees that join us since the very beginning. We hope them to be the team pillars when we grow stronger and bigger.

But not all is suitable or ready to move on to the next level, when we grow bigger, having more outlets, some staff won’t keep up with the workload, some split out to run their own similar business, some cheated the shop money. We have learnt a lot, in a hard way but as Jack said, we find it out the sooner the better.

Onwards and Upwards,

Ginny.

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Featured Articles

We got featured on Vulcan Post!

Check out the original post here

This One Secret Could Help This Sneaker Laundry Service Expand & Scale Beyond M’sia

Ginny _ Jack

  • Shoe Mo is a laundry service that offers cleaning, restorations, and custom paint jobs for shoes and sneakers.
  • Founded in June 2017 by Ginny Truc To and Jack Wong, they now have four locations across three cities in Malaysia.
  • Prices begin at RM30 for basic cleaning services.

Ever since Converse introduced the All Star back in 1917, sneakers were destined to be a “thing”.

Over the past hundred years, the sneaker has become a staple part of everyday fashion, with companies such as NikePuma, and Adidas building entire business empires off their popularity.

So widespread has the love for sneakers become that its global market is expected to be worth US$220.2 billion by the year 2020. With such huge demand for a product comes opportunity for business, in this case, sneaker cleaning and customisation.

Officially launched in June 2017 by Ginny Truc To—a Vietnamese local who relocated to Kuala Lumpur—and Jack Wong—a former army man—Shoe Mo provides cleaning, restoration, and customisation services for shoes and sneakers.

According to Jack, it all began when he and Ginny, both 29, were out jogging together two years ago.

“Ginny asked me for recommendations on sneaker cleaning services,” he said. “It took me a few seconds to realise that there weren’t any that I could recall.”

“After doing some research and conducting a few surveys, we reckoned that not only are sneakers creating a culture among the younger generation, but there was a market gap that was still to be filled. So we decided to start our business.”

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Currently, Shoe Mo (which is meant as a shortened form of “Shoe Maestro”) operates five outlets across Malaysia and provides customers footwear care services such as midsole repainting, water repellent coating, and custom decaling to give sneakers a personal touch. They’ve also made their services affordable, with basic cleaning services starting at RM30.

“We carried out the services by ourselves in the beginning,” said Ginny, detailing how she and Jack would rush home after work hours to clean shoes, experiment with techniques, and brainstorm for new ideas.

“After seven months, we opened up a workshop in Uptown Damansara. And then more team members joined us until we reached a team of 11.”

Running Towards Opportunity

“The motivating factor to start Shoe Mo was to grab at the opportunity to service a market with high demand,” said Jack. “In fact there were a few sneaker laundry boutiques when we started, but they only targeted the niche sneakerhead group.”

“We want to offer a service for the mass market where everyone can enjoy shoe care services at an affordable price.”

According to the both of them, the main target that Shoe Mo has set for itself is to become the standard go-to for shoe and sneaker care in Malaysia. And in that endeavour, Jack and Ginny are actively searching for ways to rapidly scale and acquire market share.

“We need volume. We need to dominate the market and scale as fast as we can,” said Jack. “I believe other businesses have their own way to scale.”

“But for Shoe Mo, it’s a bit tricky because we are still a service-based business with little awareness from the market. We also have no sample to refer to or look up to.”

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Building on this realisation, they figured out that the best solution to this problem was to systematise their operations and thus customised an internal system to help them with this cause.

“We build a custom web-based system for our specific business model,” said Ginny. “Since we have hundreds of shoes that go through multiple services carried out by different departments, we figured it was beyond just using pen and paper.”

It’s this very system that may give them the competitive advantage they need.

“Ever since the system took over the process, our staff has been freed from manual work to focus on delivering the best service possible. We have never been this ready to scale.”

Not Sole Players

But even though the both of them are eager to grow the Shoe Mo brand, they are also warm to the idea of more players entering the scene.

“I think the market is getting more exciting with more players coming in,” said Ginny. “There are franchised shoe and bag cleaning services from Taiwan, a few cleaning boutiques for sneakerheads, and some home-based services that do pick-ups and deliveries.”

“But we still see this as an advantage because the more marketing effort we make as a whole, the more we unlock the market and raise the awareness of this type of service.

Jack was equally as enthusiastic about the collective growth of their market and stated his keenness to see how the big players would end up helping the smaller businesses like themselves.

“From what we see, the sneaker and streetwear trend is going strong,” Jack said. “Adidas and Nike are the leaders and they are very good in capturing hype.”

“And with social media booming, these big players will be riding on the waves of these trends, and the more shoes they sell, the bigger market we have.”

 

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There are obstacles that the both of them are currently facing, however.

“Our problem right now has to do with hiring and people management,” said Ginny. “It’s hard to find new people, especially for startups in Malaysia.”

“We feel we need to build a culture to retain talent and counter the prejudice that comes with the job of cleaning shoes.”

“We think that cleaning and repairing should be perceived as a simple and basic service that everyone needs for their shoes,” she added. “That said, it doesn’t mean that shoe cleaning doesn’t require skill and technique. In fact, it’s intensive and highly detailed work that requires experience and knowledge.”

To solve this, Shoe Mo is enhancing team communication and empowering their team members to step up and take management roles.

Forward Steps

After under a year of being operational, Shoe Mo has serviced more than 5,200 pairs of shoes with around 23% of the clientele being repeat customers. And looking forward, Shoe Mo is aiming to grow while simultaneously improving the quality of its products and services.

“We are opening more stores in strategic locations,” said Jack. “The newest addition to the Shoe Mo family is our Sunway outlet that takes us to a total of four shops in three cities after just 18 months of operations.”

“In the long run, we want to conquer South East Asia. We want to be a well-known regional shoe care brand.”

“We also aim to grow vertically to add shoe care products to our portfolio,” said Ginny. “We aim to bring our e-commerce game up to a new level to catch up with the current online shopping trends.”

Team

“We believe that having a strong product and service portfolio, physical outlets and a dominating online presence will be the key to expand.”

By Vulcan Post.

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Featured Articles

Asian Entrepreneur Interview

I recently got featured on Asian Entrepreneur. Check out the original post here.

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Ginny Truc To set up Shoe Mo to raise awareness of footwear hygiene and set the standard of shoe care.

What’s your story?
Originally from Vietnam, and a former Grab alumni, I met my future Co-Founder when I moved to Malaysia for a job opportunity. Realising the street wear trend in Malaysia was and still is growing fast, chance and luck brought us together to create a shoe cleaning business in Kuala Lumpur.
Being put in a place far away from home, I find it extremely challenging yet exciting running a business in a different marketplace.

What excites you most about your industry?
Shoe Mo is a hybrid of an apparel and laundry service industry.
The sneaker trend is hitting the region in a big way and has defined a new culture among the young generation. Something that is new, cool and fast.
On the other hand, laundry service business is traditional and saturated.
Combining these industries has been a challenge. We had to make youth use a traditional type of service for their cool and trendy sneakers. We also face the challenge of creating stand out in such a saturated market.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and have spent all my life here in South East Asia. Asia is a young and fast-moving market that is open to new ideas. Of course, there are a lot of things that need improving, meaning there are lots of chances for new business.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Each city in Asia is unique and has its own special style. It’s hard to decide.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“You choose the type of energy you want to absorb.” I am passionate about people, I draw energy from the people around me. When I was younger I wasn’t aware of this, there were times I let the negativity creep in my mind and let it run my life. Until one day a dear friend told me, and it was a wakeup call – I’m more aware of my well being now, I have changed my habits and surrounded myself with great people.

Who inspires you?
Sheryl Sandberg is my role model. She has been inspiring women and young girls around the world to aspire for a seat at the main table and take leadership roles.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Focus is the key to success. I used to love multitasking and taking as many roles as I can, but the more roles I took, the more I realised that being focussed helps me go further, and faster.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d pursue an overseas education, it would give me wider experience and more exposure to different cultures. Knowledge has always been my biggest aspiration.

How do you unwind?
I love hiking and camping. I want to turn off my phone and enjoy the silence. As an entrepreneur, there is a lot of anxiety that I bear every day, so it’s best to stay off the grid, switch off the connection and focus on relaxing.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I’d say Phuket. Good food, good beaches and good people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Zero to One by Peter Thiel. This will change the way you value the world and give you an endless source of inspiration to pursue your dream.

Shameless plug for your business:
Shoe Mo’s mission is to raise awareness of footwear hygiene and set the standard of shoe care. We provide quality services and sell hand-picked, shoe hygiene products.
Within one year, we’ve grown to 15 people, 3 cities and serviced over 3000 pairs of shoes.

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How can people connect with you?
Email: ginny.tructo@gmail.com
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ginny-truc-to-80731954/

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/TrucTo89

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My Stories

How we founded Shoe Mo.

Shoe Mo is a shoe/sneaker laundry and services based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I met Jack through a friend of a friend 3 weeks after I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, we had lunch in Bangsar and became friends since. One day after we finished our Sunday run in Lake Garden, I asked Jack where I can find a place to get my sneakers cleaned in KL. Jack seemed hesitate then the answer popped out from him, surprised me. “Malaysians don’t wash their shoes”.

Then I told Jack how I would send my sneakers to service to clean in Vietnam and how cheap that was. “Let’s do it” — Jack told me.

I lost counting how many Youtube videos and Google Know-hows we’ve watched on cleaning sneakers, we experimented on our own sneakers in our kitchens and bathrooms with a mess of cleaning products and tools, we even tried the washing machine and dryers (Trust me, don’t do that, ever) to realise that it is the most stupid thing you can do to your sneakers. We came up with a name Shoe Mo (Mo stands for Maestro, aka Master). Our facebook page was set up within one afternoon in November 2016 with a simple blue logo.

Here’s our first big order, a client sent us 11 pairs of his collection

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And Jack experiment cleaning shoes in his bathroom.

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At the time, we had no idea on how to price our service so we just put a random amount (RM10) to test out the market. The price was very minimal and we offered door to door pickup and delivery service included. Obviously that was a lost to us. The few first orders came from Jack’s friends. Eventually shoes started to come to us, suede, leather, nubuck, canvas, converse, walking shoes, slippers, even huge boots like Timberlands or expensive french-made leather shoes. To us that was a huge learning curves on how to operate a service and make it our most valuable asset. Our marketing was very minimal, I would go and listed Shoe Mo every market place I came across with, then we started to get orders from strangers, one guy from Mudah.my, others from Carousell, another one from Instagram, someone found us on Google, a recommended client from another client, and so the name of Shoe Mo started spreading.

From a few pairs per week to a few pairs per day, me and Jack would rush home after work to wash shoes and spent our weekend experimenting on new ideas and services (Jack’s house would smell like shoes when orders came in). We launched new service as sneaker repainting to solve the problem of the yellowing. We also learnt how to get the pricing right and eventually minimize the delivery work.

When we first put Shoe Mo out for online ads, I remembered waking up the morning after freaking out, messages flooded our facebook page inquiring for services. Our page traffic increased +1000% overnight, followed by the nonstop cleaning shoes days to fulfill the market needs. Me and Jack are also glad to have Frank on board, Frank used to be our client but soon he realised Shoe Mo’s potential so he asked to join us even though he’s still at school. Frank and Jack would run back and forth to get shoes cleaned and returned to clients on time. We made a fair bit of profit, we had good reviews and enormous support from our clients, we had partners reaching out to us for corporations. We decided to take Shoe Mo to the next level.

Our first workshop in Damansara Uptown, Petaling Jaya.

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After 6 months of working hard and holding on, we officially get Shoe Mo first workshop open for walk-in customers.I feel extremely emotional on this turning point of our brain child. We could have quitted when the days get long and tiring, when we had to say no to hangouts and personal plans to settle the orders on time, we could have quitted when we kept losing money at the beginning, when our fingers were all dirty and stained, I could have quitted when I feel lonely and home-sick in a foreign country. We are no rich kids playing entrepreneurship. We struggle everyday to balance our full time work and cleaning shoes, at the same time bootstrapping Shoe Mo, and make it a real sustainable business.

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This milestone does not only marks the official launch of Shoe Mo, it’s the beginning of a new, habit changing service to the young modern generation and we proud to be one of the very first trendsetters in town. Shoe Mo team is eager to improve and innovate ourselves to bring the best service as we could.

I’d like dedicate this small success to my boyfriend, Andrik, who has been unconditionally supportive despite my busy schedule and short temper.

My great gratitude to Jack, Shoe Mo co-founder for taking this journey with me. And Andrik my boyfriend who has helped to set a smooth sail for Shoe Mo.

My deepest thanks to Frank, Ammar for being with us through the early days.

To my best friend, Cheryl, my supporting pillar and sharing shoulders.

To friends and family back home.

Ginny.

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My Stories

About focus, discipline and determination.

The past 2 years have been real a adventure. I’ve had 4 jobs, made 18 trips, moved 3 times in the span of 24 months. I barely remember how time flied that quickly, I was always on the move.

20 years ago I probably was sitting under the longan tree playing with grass waiting for my cousin to pick fresh laid chicken eggs. 5 years ago I was a fresh grad, struggling for a job and fighting for who I wanted to be. 2 years ago, I doubted the decisions I’ve made, I questioned myself on my life purpose. Now I’m in another country far away from my little home town, sitting in a high rise of a big business complex where memories of chicken farm and longan trees seems vague and distant.

Time flies. I’ve gone so far. What’s next?

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The fact of me taking risks brings me far in life, at least further than what a 7 year old girl in the chicken farm could imagine. I never question my resilience and ability to learn to adapt. Yet I get scared recently when I wake up. The sense of belonging strikes harder than before. I doubt my existence, and what I call mine.

I’m determined. My mind hardly switches off when I set it up for something. I’m good at short term goals. Yet I realised what I lack of is a bit of patience and a lot of discipline. The more I live the bigger challenge I face and the greater courage it takes. Life goal now isn’t getting a job or buying a new phone, and is less of the tangibles. Making changes, being influential, making mental and physical wellness affordable, sense of achieving and ultimately, peace in mind — those cannot be achieved within a short period of time. Being constantly on the move doesn’t help. Being spontaneous doesn’t help. Being easy to myself is definitely not going to help.

Moving forward to the new year, I expect no great achievement, no big adventure but the ability to settle my focus to the bigger goal, work hard with discipline and determination towards a better future.

And as always, a little of faith helps.

2017, you’re now welcome.

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My Stories

Life as a hike

Hiking intrigues me always — the concept of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, going out of your usual way up to new challenge, with one single ultimate goal: selfie at the top of the mountain.

But if you look at life itself, it’s pretty much a hike.

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View on the way downhill — Chua Chan Mountain, May 2016

We all start off eagerly, curiously, eyes wide open, touch everything on our way, laugh and talk to our companion. At first it’s all easy and we are full of energy. But soon enough we will complain on the rocky way, the steep muddy trail, the. We’ll need some break. The mosquitoes bother us. We sweat, we curse more frequently, starting to question why do we have to do what we are doing. We question ourselves, then we question our companion, whose idea was it? Yet we are hopeful, and full of faith that we can make it. “It will be worth it”, “The view will be amazing” — those thoughts keep our legs moving.

Then we make it. We are standing on top of the hill, panting, smiling. We hug and share joys, and of course, we take plenty of photos of us standing with our arms and mouth wide open. We stay for half an hour and start to think, this is it, this is what I came for. Now what.

We have to go down, and our legs are tired, we’ll need some stick to help us walk. We try not to slide, we are focus, we don’t talk to people around as we did. We don’t wait, we want to get down as quick as we can. Sometimes we look back, seeing the top for the last time. Now we don’t look around, mosquitoes don’t really bother us anymore — too many bites, we couldn’t care less. We run out of energy for jokes or even swearing. We lay down anywhere we can, still cursing, but only in our heart. We accept the fact that this was our choice. As soon as we reach the ground, we’ll find ourself sleeping like a baby on the bus back.

Yes. We all look forward to reach the top, but we only spend 1/12 of our time actually be on the top. Then when we wake up the next morning, the view on the top will be blurry, but the times we slipped, the remaining itchiness of mosquito bites, the bruises and the pain in your thighs are…crystal clear. Someone said happiness is a journey. I would say, happiness is IN the journey. Goals are set to achieve, yet embrace the journey to success. You’ll remember that the most on your rocking chair.

Peace out,

Ginny.

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