How can baking a brownie inspire you to write – especially in a rainy weather

2:12PM
The scent of brownies baking in the oven starts to linger in the house. My current thoughts – hoping that my popcorn brownies in the oven turns out good. 

It is the perfect kind of weather to laze around at home in my PJs – snuggling up with a good book, baked brownies and milk for teatime, and of course, a sideline of random thoughts lingering in my brain.

People often asked me, “What exactly do you on most days?” I can’t deny it, but that was the kind of question I will ask when someone told me they are on their Gap Year. Before I dived into my own Gap Year, I had a pretty bias overview that a typical Gap Year usually consists of 80% traveling and the other 20% lazying in bed.

But of course, that wasn’t the case.

Now that I’m almost 9 months into my Gap Year, my first rule of advice for those who are thinking of taking one is to set out and understand your purpose and intention(s) of taking a Gap Year. What makes one’s Gap Year different than the others is our intention(s). If your intention is to travel the world, then of course 80-90% of your time will be spent on traveling.

My Gap Year intention is pretty straightforward – it is all about self-care. Therefore pretty much everything that I do during my Gap Year is towards a greater intention of caring for myself (in other words, anything that will make me feel happy, rejuvenated and at peace).

For a while, I’ve always wondered why I do what I do, or why I love engaging in certain activities. Two weeks ago before my trip to Japan, I had a mini intervention for myself. It was after the intervention that I became more enlightened about my life. For a start, I became more assured that Allah put me on this Earth to serve humanity through my strength in influencing others to be a better version of themselves.

And I realised that in order to fulfil this life calling, there are a few factors that drive me or in other words, I need these things in order to be able to serve people in my best self.

1. A healthy mindset – that’s why it makes so much sense that I love the outdoors, traveling and nature. My interests in cycling, trekking and a sense of adventure are the medium for me to create a healthy mindset.

2. Constantly seeking knowledge – that’s why I’m always curious about life and the drive to learn new things is always there to keep my mind active with new knowledge and wisdom.

3. Getting inspired – that’s why I love to constantly surround myself with positive people and be in an environment that will never fail to inspire. This is where I actually thrived – especially when I meet new people and get inspired from hearing their life stories. At the end of the day, life is a series of stories we tell. 

4. Reflections – that’s why I love having deep thought provoking conversations with people around me. And it never fails to amaze me how sometimes you can get that connection with people whom you just met.

5. Love – that’s why family, friends and the religion are important to me to always keep me grounded and be grateful with everything that I have in life.

Even though it seems like a luxury to be able to take a year off, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. There are many times that I questioned myself, have doubts about where I am in life right now and how do I go about my life after this year.

Nevertheless, this reflection post was a great reminder to myself as to why I needed this Gap Year for myself. It is not about how much time you’ve spent that matters but it is how those time spent makes you feel that matters.

3:23PM
My brownies turned out great – slight regret in mixing the stale popcorn in the brownies though.


I became an Uber driver for 3 weeks, and here’s what I learnt

The title itself is self explanatory and how it got to the point of me being a driver is a different story on its own. No one really saw it coming except for my closest friends and family. It was a win-win situation – the family got to use the car for a month but in return I had to be an Uber driver to cover the cost of the car. It’s my Gap Year after all and what’s a Gap Year without trying new things out of your comfort zone.

It was no doubt an enlightening experience and here are my takeaways from this experience.

  1. Every job has its own challenges
    It doesn’t matter if you are a taxi driver, a cleaner, a manager in a financial firm, a lifeguard or a postman, every job has its own set of challenges. Sometimes we take for granted the jobs that seems ‘small’ in our society. It’s important not to disregard the challenges that the people around us might be sharing about their job. In fact, you may never know if you could actually learn valuable lessons from those ‘work rants’ that could be valuable not only for your job but your life too.

    Being an Uber driver for 3 weeks made me appreciate individuals who are driving as their full-time jobs – be it taxi drivers or bus drivers. It is a huge responsibility to be carrying passengers and making sure that we reach our destination safely. It might seem trivial to us, but while I was driving passengers around, consciously I became more aware of how important it is to drive safely – not only for your life, but for others too.

  2. Time is valuable
    Let’s be honest here, I didn’t like being an Uber driver. It’s nothing to do with the drive itself, its more of a personal preference because of the sedentary nature of prolong driving. It came to a point when I was driving, all I could think of was the opportunity cost (time) that I could be spending doing something useful or even if its not useful, something that I really like to do. I rather hike for 4 hours, than driving a car for 4 hours for ‘work.’

    But I learnt more about myself through this experience. It assures me of the kind of lifestyle that I love and how important it is to integrate that lifestyle in all aspects of my life including the next job/career path that I’m taking after this Gap Year. I realised it definitely bothers me when I couldn’t move around or have my mind challenged in a job. And it is of more important now for me to do the things that I really want to do that makes me happy because time is valuable.

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  3. Mind over matter
    Even though I didn’t like being an Uber driver, it was truly mind over matter. I knew I had to cover the cost of the car (well, it was until my brother came in on board to help cover the cost, that I was relieved from driving), I had pretty much no choice but to stick through it because I made that decision to try out to be a driver.

    And this applies to every aspect of our lives. The mind is a powerful place to create positive thoughts and energy to get through the challenges in life –  especially in situations where you just can’t wait to get out of. What works for me in getting through challenging situations in life is to look through the ridiculous bad parts and seek for the ridiculously funny and amazing parts about it. You’ll be amazed at how it will make you feel so much better. In this case, it was the conversations that I had with some of the passengers. And it helps to be surrounded by people who could appreciate that ridiculously funny and amazing parts about life.

  4. Incentives means nothing if you have no passion for what you are doing
    Uber had many incentives for its drivers – those that requires you to drive a certain number of trips and you get extra cash out of it. Even though it was a relatively ‘easy task,’ it wasn’t enough to motivate me to drive that number of trips simply because I had no interest in the drive itself.

    It brings me to the point that if we have no passion or interest in the job that we are doing, the incentives of the job will not seem valuable to you even though its worth a lot to the eyes of others. And that my friends, reassured me to follow my heart and to work for something that is aligned with my goals and passion in life.

    Signing out from being an Uber driver.

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The kind of love you create

Tonight my heart is bestowed with feelings that bow down to the greatness of God and the everlasting love and gratefulness one could ever feel.

Have you ever wondered the kind of love that you create among the closest friends that you’ve ever had? You know how they say, “If a friendship lasts longer than 7 years, it will last a lifetime.”  But can anyone ever define the kind of love you gave and have for the people around you? What makes you love a person?

Hidden depression – it is hard to identify through oneself but somehow easy to recognise by the closest people around you. Lately, I’ve had a couple of my closest friends who are silently undergoing through this stage in their life and at times,  being a friend, it is hard for me to reach out to them – for the denial stage for some of them, prolongs till only time will tell.

And some things can’t be forced. Moving pass the stage of denial to the acceptance stage is a long process that differs through individuals. It takes time, prayers and patience for them to be enlightened and one thing is for sure, we can never help a person if they are not ready to help themselves first.

But it is hard. It is hard for me as a friend to see someone who is close to me going through this stage in their life. Sometimes, I feel helpless and then I wonder to myself, “Is this how it feels like to love someone you really care? To feel their pain and to get them out of that pain? Is this the highest form of love we can ever have for someone?”

Tonight, a dear friend of mine opened up about her struggles. I’ve always felt it coming but it was never the right time or situation to talk about it. But tonight, my question about the kind of love you have towards a friend was answered.

It’s the kind of love that you feel warmth when you see her cry. It denotes the trust and realization that this intimate moment is one that you both will remember till end of time.

It’s the kind of love where you knew her tears were tears of fears and trust. And I was there to witness her cries.

It’s the kind of love that all you ever wanted is to see her shine through this phase in life and bring back that sunshine in her life – no matter how hard it’s gonna take.

It’s the kind of love that creates a constant remembrance of God’s greatness and blessings in our life. How love is nothing without God’s love and how she’s not here in my life without God’s will.

At the end of the day, it’s not hard to make a difference in people’s life. It’s a matter of being present and having a sincere heart.

What if I was a tree? 
I would be the tree that shelter the vulnerable
The tree that feel the fears and see the tears 
The tree who knows the truth about them
To be the constant that they need

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On Becoming Twenty Five

I turned 25 a week ago. And funnily enough that was also the time I realised that I haven’t been updating this space for almost a month now since my last post on May 30th.

Life has caught on. I’m finally 25.

It has been a blessed month while I was away from this space. It was Ramadhan (fasting month in the Islamic calendar) and a lot of my time was spent with my family and being fully present in performing my ibadah during the Ramadhan period. And no doubt, this year’s Ramadhan felt different – different from the past few years when fasting month always falls during the peak periods of either working or schooling life. I will come around to write more about my gap year Ramadhan’s experiences. You might asked,  “How different could it be”?

But today, I thought I revived back this space by sharing some thoughts and mindful realisations that I had after turning the golden age of 25.

  1. I felt no difference in turning 25
    You know how they say, “Age is just a number.” Well, it is true. Every birthday year since I turned 20 has always felt the same. Of course, there are days where I will hyperventilate when I lie down in bed and realised that I’m a legit full grown adult (who doesn’t?!). But there are also days where I feel blessed to still be receiving comments from strangers who always thought that I’m 18 (and the youngest number I’ve ever received is 16 years old).

    The secret ingredient in looking and feeling young – surround yourself with positive energy. 

    At the end of the day, we don’t  need assurance from others to make us feel good about ourself. I’ve been blessed with amazing family and friends who emits positive outlook and energy in life. And I believed that is the true reason why I’m always feeling young and positive at heart. Like what they say “Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel. Energies are contagious.”

  2. Time is never enough and becomes more valuable
    I don’t know about everyone else, even though some of my older friends keep assuring me that “You’re only 25! Relax a little,” I feel that time is never enough and I’m not working hard enough for my Hereafter at this prime age. This feeling of time is never enough came about after I attended a religious talk a few months back and the Sheikh mentioned,

    “In the Hereafter, Allah will not only ask you about what you did with your time on Earth, but he will specifically ask you, what you did in your Youth.” 


    That statement has been ingrained in me ever since and it is a definitely a challenge to be able to manage our time well and spent it towards a true purpose. Its a paradox cycle where you feel like you are spending your time productively but that productive time is spend to fulfil your Nafs (نَفْس) – self, psyche ego or soul. And for that, I’m always guilty.

  3. Death becomes a conscious thought
    I think about Death all the time. I think about the times when Allah saved me from deadly situations that could end up in Death. I think about the hikmah behind all those saved situations. And I think about the deeds that I’ve done and have not done. Is it enough to save me in the Hereafter? Probably not.

    The Death thoughts are not just about me. But I thought of the day when death will happen to my parents, brother, close family, relatives and friends. How will I react to that day? But I believed talking and reflecting about Death is necessary. It reminded me that this world is temporary and to not get occupied with world affairs. Talking about Death should motivate you to work towards your Hereafter and not scares you.


  4. Experience over material wealth
    No doubt. This realisation holds true ever since I turned 20. Materials gave us temporary happiness but experiences gave us a lifetime box full of memories. And for me traveling has been my favourite gateway in gaining new perspectives and to be in awe with Allah’s creations.


    Jobs fill your pockets, but adventures fill your soul.

  5. When will I ever get married?
    This realisation is hilarious but it hit me when I turned 25 last week. When I was 16, I used to say that people who are 25 and not married yet are crazy – 25 should be the perfect age to get married, have kids by 27 and live happily ever after.Well look at me now.

    I’m 25 and barely near that marriage timeline yet. I know its getting real when people starts praying for me to meet my jodoh (soulmate) real soon and when my parents start asking me the golden question “When are you getting married.” I barely have any love interest right now and the only thought currently occupying my head is “Where is the next destination I’m traveling to?”

    But I believed Allah knows what’s best for me and the right person will come when we are both ready for marriage. At this point of time in my life, I’m always seeking for new experiences, adventures and for what is worth, my other half needs to be comfortable with that or rocking the same boat. My only prayers as of now is to have my parents witness me getting married while they are still strong. InshaAllah.



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We have an irrational fear of nothing

It’s not easy seeing your loved ones slowly caving in into their useless self. It’s not easy to hear words that ends up with death and no way out.

Head in the clouds

We live in the age and time where we are expected to suddenly grow up and know things. Not only in terms of building a career but also in living life as an adult. However, for some individuals it may seem easy to open up about all these fears of living a life but for some, it has never been easy to express these melancholy thoughts. In fact, most of us are not even aware of the existent of these thoughts because we tend to not want to deal with it. Or we don’t feel like we have the right support system to share these thoughts with. We don’t spend time with our thoughts.

We have an irrational fear of nothing.

Our thoughts affects our hearts. Negative thoughts crumble our hearts into the hopeless version of ourselves. Positive thoughts exposed our hearts to hopes and bigger things in life. These thoughts which affects our hearts eventually affect how we feel and the actions we take – just like how we will react to life events or the support systems we created for ourselves. And all these things help shape our mental health.

Doesn’t it now make more sense that understanding mental health becomes more important for an individual and the community that we are living in? Seeking knowledge and understanding mental health breaks the barrier within an individual and the others around them.

Spend more time with our thoughts and the thoughts of others so that we can start creating a support system of positive relationships that will eventually be an important contributing factor in building a positive community and resilient individuals.

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This is how I finally found my purpose in life

24. It is the age where you are independently capable enough to purchase things on your own as compared to when you were 16 – when waiting for your birthday every year seems like a 10 year wait for your parents or loved ones to fulfil your never ending wish list. Now that I’m 24, I realised that I had everything that I have ever wanted and most importantly, I knew I had everything that I was suppose to have.

But there is no deny that at this time and age, we have also evolved into creatures of habit. We stocked up on things that we don’t really need. We buy another pair of shoes just because the other pair that we owned no longer seems fashionable or fit the current look that we’re going for. Overtime, we tend to buy things for the sake of buying – it becomes a habit that no longer creates a value to an individual.

I’ve always been the kind of girl that isn’t materialistic enough to appreciate an expensive handbag or needed the most expensive items from the product range. I am relatively simple in that materialistic sense. It was went my best friend shared with me a quote from Yasmin Mogahed’s book, Reclaim Your Heart that made me think twice about my materialistic position in life.

“I thought I’m never the materialistic person, because I’m never into branded bags, high salaries, expensive items. but I realised materialistic is not just about things…its about emotions, people…anything related to Dunia. And it was then I realised that I AM materialistic, I was too attached to people.”

This quote made me realise that the word materialistic meant more than what I thought it was. And that my friends, was the catalyst that made me embark on this journey of self-transformation particularly with regards to any forms of tangible and emotional attachment towards worldly affairs. For a start, my journey began with me deleting my 4 year old Instagram account (a huge emotional attachment for me) which you can read more about here.

From there, I moved on to address the most obvious tangible attachment in life – cleaning out my room of items and clothing that I barely used. For a start, I googled and began to get more interested about the whole ideology of being a minimalist. My search engine often includes phrases such as “How Do I be a Minimalist? Ways to declutter your room? What is minimalistic?”

I asked myself the following questions every time I hold an item in my hands while I was clearing out my room.

  1. Does it spark joy to me now?
  2. How long has this been in my wardrobe/cupboard?
  3. Do I even know when was the last time I wore this or use the item?

If the answer to any of the questions above are either a no or don’t know, it either goes into the donation box or into the recycling/throw away box. And with that, I managed to clean out my room within 2 days – talking about efficiency guys!

For a while, I’ve always thought that being a minimalist means owning lesser stuffs and in some sense, being a decluttering expert even when you have other professions in life. If I were to summarize it, it was all about stuffs – dealing more with the tangible objects in our life. But that was just the beginning.

Over the next few days after cleaning out my room, I became more conscious that being a minimalist is more than just decluttering what’s on your counter top. I realised as a Muslim and in the spiritual context, being a minimalist is also about purifying your heart into reconnecting back to the reasons you are living in this time and your purpose in life.

I soon began to search for new spiritual knowledge and who would have thought that even if I’m still now at the beginning stages of this continuous learning process, God has shown me the path that has led me in ultimately finding my purpose in life. And there it is. My Gap Year has just gotten more interesting because now with this new found purpose of life (which I’ve yet to share), I am setting out on a new venture to make a change in the community which I’ll probably get around to share over the next few posts.

Here’s a quote from a recent documentary that I’ve watched about minimalism (Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things) to summarize how I feel about being a minimalist.

 “The people you bring into your life – we should always be hanging out with people who have the same values and that is what really being a minimalist is all about. It’s about living deliberately. So every choice that I made, every relationship, every item, every dollar that I spent – I’m not perfect obviously – but I do constantly ask the question, “Is this adding value? Am I being deliberate with this decision?” – Josh

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Mount Bromo, Indonesia

31st January – 3rd February 

My friends and I have been talking about this trip for ages and when we finally made our first mountain climbing trip as a group happened, I was pretty impressed with ourselves for sticking through the decision. But for many reasons, Mount Bromo wasn’t what we expected.

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We first arrived in Surabaya city in the afternoon and because of our adventurous travel spirit, we decided to head down to the mountainous area through a slightly longer route – via a 3hr train ride to Probolinggo followed by another 2hr car ride to Cemoro Lawang, the base of Mount Bromo. After almost 5 hours of being cramped up on the local train and a bumpy car ride, we finally arrived at the mountain base in the evening.

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And here came the first thrilling part of the trip that we didn’t come prepared for. We totally did not anticipate the weather change that will vary from being in the city (Surabaya) to the mountainous area. We experienced the sunny Asian humid weather that we were used to, to freezing 2 degree cold wind weather at the mountainous area. The windbreakers/jackets that we had in our backpacks were not enough to protect the fatty layers of our bodies!

We knew it was going to be cold, but we didn’t know that we were actually embarking on an adventure in one of their ‘bad weather’ season. But like how tourist places are, the locals are always there to save the day. We had no choice but to rent out thick jackets and bought gloves/scarfs and beanies to protect ourselves throughout our stay in the mountainous area.

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Knowing that we wanted to hike up the crater of Mount Bromo with our legs, with no tour guide and jeep to transport us up, we decided to stay at the closest guest house (Cemara Indah) that has an easy access to the start of the mountain base hiking trail for our early morning start at 3:00AM in the morning.

And here came the next thrilling part of our trip. Imagine this – it was totally pitch dark and the only lights we had were the one shining from our average joe torchlights and the light shining from the ‘thousands of jeeps’ that drove past us. I could certainly bet that the drivers were wondering anxiously if these 5 little kids knew where they were heading to. Well they guessed it right, we didn’t know where we were heading to. We thought we will be on the right track if we followed the direction of the jeeps but we thought wrong. The jeeps were basically heading towards the mountain opposite Mount Bromo called Mount Penanjakan where people usually sit at the summit to watch the sunrise over Mount Bromo.

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By then we were already walking on flat asphalt land, but of course due to the darkness around us we could still not see where we were. And by the Grace of God, we were saved by a local on a motorcycle whom out of nowhere appeared beside us. He assured us that for a small fee, he will guide us to the base of the Mount Bromo crater. The five of us gathered in a circle, had our shortest and most productive discussion ever, and agreed to trust the local to lead the way. Till today I truly believed the local was God sent at the time when we really needed Him the most.

Due to the bad weather, we were practically the only ones on the crater of Mount Bromo together with another hiker, waiting patiently and optimistically for the sunrise that never arrive. The sandstorm was pretty bad and till this day, I still didn’t know why we were holding on to that optimism over our safety.

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Here we are waiting patiently for the sunrise that never arrive

But despite the cold, dusty lungs from the sandstorm and freezing sleepless nights back at the guesthouse, we made it work around our optimism and laughter. Here is something that I truly believe in – it is not where you are but who you are with that really matters. Till the next crazy adventure guys!

P.S Check out more photos from the trip here.

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