1. What was the most challenging decision that you’ve ever made? What does it concern and why did you need to make it?
It was the moment where I realized that life is all about how we perceive things and how we take control.
I was on a climb up Mount Kinabalu when I almost wanted to give up in the second hour. (I blamed the thin air!). I couldn’t feel my legs, and I was hungry, among other things. I am an active person, rather a hyperactive person with short spurts of energy. My energy worn off in the first hour. At the pit stop I had the choice of giving up or push myself on. I stopped complaining and sang all the way up with my friends joining in. I soon realise that whatever I get in life is based on the decisions I make for myself.
2. Why did you decide to give up your career as a lecturer in accounts to be a housewife?
I didn’t intend to give up my career as a lecturer. Prior to being a lecturer, I was a Corporate Financier with Ernst & Young. When I got married I needed a more family friendly job. Lecturing was the first option as I was told it gave flexibility and balance time for the family. So I became a lecturer. During one of the lectures a student asked “Miss, are you going to continue be a lecturer after this?”. This let to discussions on happy times with family and earliest childhood memories. At the end of the discussion this student said . “A child will only stick to you for his first 6 years of life, there after their school friend is their world”. These word struck me hard that day. From thereon being in corporate has been history.
3. Have any of your decisions been one of no return and did that scare you?
There have been many big changes since I got married and some have been scary. It’s a whole list that include quitting my job, deciding on an all-natural painless birth, moving to Netherlands, moving back from Netherlands, having two other kids that makes me a mum of 3 kids below 4 and then moving to Miri while I was still in confinement. All these did scare me, however, the excitement of new challenges was far more exciting. So I place my thoughts on bonding time with my kids, adventures of staying abroad and going to a city with no traffic jam (Miri). All these present steep learning curves but we learn to adapt.
4. How do you find the time to write this cookbook? How did the idea of writing this book come about ?
Never in my life did I think that I would write any book. But opportunity came knocking and it was exciting. After the initial “what if” apprehensions that went from the editor not liking what I wrote to no one buying I decided that I would definitely regret if I let this go. So I woke up at 4am daily to start my day. The quiet time allowed me to plan my day better and got things done to allow me time to start working on the cookbook.
5. What do your friends say about your unconventional choices like water birth or moving to Miri?
Prior to my decisions I explained all about the pros and to my family and friends. I enlightened them with new information as I start to learn more about natural ways of pain management. It’s a bit like we all make decisions together on what’s best for us. Of course, not so close friends would give remarks like “you’re so daring”, “you’re not scared” or “supermum” but when close family and friends know about the options, pros and cons, its no longer about taking risks, but doing what’s best for us.
I came from a poor family. After SPM, I wanted to do Medicine and took A-Levels. After A-Levels, I start looking for colleges and realized that if I were to continue to do Medicine, it would mean that my dad would need to sell off his house which he worked very hard to buy (he only managed to buy the house when I was 15 years old). That’s when I decide to just take any degree course, as long as it is reputable yet cost efficient. I took up ACCA. Much cheaper course, but still cost a fortune to my dad. You would think I disappointed him the most for being a housewife right? When I announced to the family that I wanted to be a housewife, my dad told me that it was the best decision I have made. He was right.
I guess moving to Miri was quite simple. By the family and friends were used to the fact that “Grace wasn’t that normal after all. She always jumps out of her comfort zone and there she goes again.” Of course, by then, I already had a stable income providing placenta encapsulation services and also freelance corporate finance job. It meant having to quit all these and start anew. However, I had already figured out what type of business I could start when we start to settle down in Miri. I started Memento Keepsake in February 2016, a month and a half after we moved to Miri.
6. What next?
I was really fortunate that the Editor really likes my work and she offered me a second cookbook before the first book was even published. So I am working on that now. I also took up a certification to gain more knowledge about food nutrition so I can do better on it.
Besides this, I also founded Fifty50Life with two of my best friends. Three of us have the same thoughts about being a housewife while the kids are young. However, one thing that always worry us is that who will hire someone who has been absent from workforce for a period of time? So we started this platform where parents (not just mums, there are house husbands too!) can keep their resume relevant with short term assignments or flexible working arrangement and also for those who are ready to go back to fulltime employment, these employers who list with us value and acknowledge them.