YOUR MIRACLE

Always have hope.
Always have faith.
No matter how bad any situation is, your miracle can be closer than you can imagine.
Believe.

~ ALAN IAN ATKINSON
Writer, Author, Storyteller

EX-TRAORDINARY

Do more than your best, always! The difference between doing your best and more than your best is that little extra.

That little “extra” is what makes the “ordinary”, extraordinary.

It is pronounced as “ex-traordinary”; not extra-ordinary.

~ALAN IAN ATKINSON
Writer, Author, Storyteller

Inc

2023 is Moving Along

The fourth day of the new year is almost at its end. So, the question here is: Is everything the “same-same” as last year and the previous years?

Are the new year’s resolutions out the window by now and “we will do it at the end of this year?”

Are your goals…Goal? What is that? Some kind of football game? Are your goals in the same predicament as your new year’s resolutions?

A new year’s resolution can be a simple thing like a habit that you would like to change that perhaps will improve your overall life.

Goals – short, medium long term goals are what you want to achieve over time – save money for a holiday, reduce weight, become financially free.

Decisions…decisions. they are hard to make. Why are they left to me?

The first step to change in your life is to get out of the “same-same” mode.

Then, embrace 2023 with all you want to achieve. Some may work, others may not.

Aim for the positive. Have fun. Who knows…”Change” may just become a habit.

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS

Christmas this year: no visits to the most beautifully Christmas – decorated shopping malls and public places in Malaysia. Something that we would do every year to capture the latest, biggest, most dazzling decorations and all the festivities that come with it.

Our home will have a small Christmas tree with lights and ornaments on them. The presents will be ready for the family. Every year, Christmas is with the family.

This year, Christmas will be the same. But, this time it will be with Laura.

Yes, Jeannie and I get to spend Christmas with Laura. Jeannie and I have spent the last 3 weeks with Laura in her everyday life, here in the U.S.. It has been nothing short than amazing – that wonderful sense of love in the air even without it being spoken.

This Christmas, it will be the most joyful, so far.

We are blessed in abundance.

We would like to share this special picture, now a treasured picture of the Atkinsons – it was amongst the first of our family reunion after nearly 3 and a half years.

We, the Atkinsons, wish all our family and friends the world over, “Merry Christmas. May God’s peace be with you in abundance, always.”

We leave you with Mariah Carey’s, “All I want for Christmas is You”; specially chosen and dedicated by Laura for all to enjoy.

Our treasure

Christmas is Where Your Heart is

As Christmas is fast approaching us (5 days to go), it is kind of different how we, Jeannie and I; are approaching it this year. Wait a minute. Is this another Hallmark movie similarity?

Videos and pictures posted on the many social media platforms of the most beautiful Christmas decorations, lights, themes, live musicals and other performances and shows at shopping malls, and other public places – this has to be the best ever…until the next year.

These malls will be crowded with people. Everyone there, or mostly everyone; comes to these shopping centers to be in the “spirit of Christmas”. People shoot billions of pictures from their camera smartphones. Some may even venture to use real, full fledge cameras, you know the chunky over-sized, blob-shaped bodies (the cameras, not the owners…maybe the owners, too). Strapped, cross-strapped and tied to their torsos are camera lenses the size of bazookas and other accessories. The question is whether they will be able to get that rare million dollar shot? In the end, it does not really matter, they have the equipment, they might as well use it.

The food – yes, you can be forgiven if you go dizzy with choice. There are cakes, cookies (‘biscuits” aren’t as common these days), chocolates, sweets, savory and non-savory food; local, western, east-Asian; Malaysians love to eat.

Yes, I am talking about Christmas in Malaysia. Many Christians would be in church for days before and after Christmas, involved in mass and organized programs. There are also the little pre-Christmas and post-Christmas gatherings of friends and family members at each other’s homes.

So, it is not quite a Hallmark movie small town Christmas. So far, snow flurries only, no full-blown snowfall.

We are having a very cosy, meaningful Christmas with Laura and a few of her friends. It is our first Christmas with Laura since 2018. We are enjoying a non-commercialized Christmas.

Our Lady, Mother Mary; has always blessed, interceded and prayed for us, that all the we ask for, we will be blessed. This Christmas, we lift up all our greatest needs in health, and all that we ask for. We lift “K” https://leatherpotato.com/2022/11/30/she-said-im-all-alone/ in prayer, as would have underwent the procedure in hospital. She will be recovering in hospital over the next few days, until after Christmas.

Mother Mary has always been a guiding path in my life. Though there have been many instances where I veered off track for a bit… more than a bit, maybe. Mother Mary has always been with us and has never left us alone.

Why is Mother Mary so important in the lives of Catholics? She is the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Mother Mary has a great sense of humor. Where do you think her son got His great sense of humor from?

As we move towards the day of Christmas; we wish you and your loved ones, full of joy, peace, hope, enjoyment and laughter with family and friends.

I leave you all with “Hail, Holy Queen”, a Sister Act version. Enjoy.

PARDON MY PEPPERS

A rich and successful businessman took two of his top candidates out for lunch before deciding who would get the job.

Both of them had the same top marks and performed equally the same in all areas.

After lunch, the businessman chose 1 over the other.

The disappointed candidate who did not get the job, then asked the businessman why he was not chosen. After all, he and the other guy had the same qualifications and skills.

The businessman replied, “when your meals came, you immediately added pepper to your food before trying it. The other guy tried the meal first before adding seasoning to it. We were looking for someone who is willing to try out new ideas.

NOTE:
Last Sunday while I was out for breakfast with my family and friends; I remembered the story above. When our orders came, almost everyone began adding something to their food, whether it was salt, pepper, tomato sauce before actually tasting their food first.

I tasted my meal first. Tasted good. Did not need to add anything to improve on the taste.

MICHELIN Guide

Doin’ the Coffee Thing

Jeannie and I have watched many Hallmark movies over the last 1 year or so as it sort of gave us a sense of being closer to our daughter, Laura: who was studying in the U.S.

Most of the cafes depicted in those movies were small, able to accommodate 15 – 20 people at any one time businesses. People usually had coffee to go, on their way to work; or on their way home after work. The baristas, waitresses and waiters usually knew all their customers by name. And so did the customers, they knew each other, too.

Apparently, Decatur, Illinois, is not that small a town as it is made out to be.

Laura and her college mate Pete; were going to grab coffee and do some work there. She asked if Jeannie and I would like to tag along.

Apart from the usual very commercial, run-of-the-mill “Pak HaiLam”, “OldTown”, “NewTown”, “Railway line” and “Setarbak” (1) which we are usually accustom to, we popped in at “Coffee Connection”.

Coffee Connection was not quite as what we (more like I) would have expected, which was a small set-up with some old fashion charm. Old fashion charm includes lots of wood with some leather thrown in here and there for some good measure. The setting / atmosphere was modern, with a sit-in arrangement for about 35 people.

Definitely a place where one could get some serious work done. There was a good age group mix of people when we were there. Some of whom were like us, were there working on their computers and other devices.

There were a couple of others who seem to want to resonate with the original form of writing, no not chisel and stone; but pen and paper.

Aside from work or college assignments; people were there just to chill (pun intended) with outside temperatures at -6deg C. The coffee and beverage menu offering was wide and have met most peoples’ requests. You can order from a nice selection of cakes and cookies to go with the beverages. Laura and Pete ordered their usual as they are regular customers there.

Jeannie and I ordered their house signature coffee. There was a choice of 4 house specials. The barista explained the 4 variants and suggested a couple of choices to us . Jeannie had the more traditional mocha coffee. Tasted as good as it looked.

I had a peppermint coffee variant. Smooth. As you take a sip of this coffee, the peppermint reaches your senses first, relaxing you as you take in the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, which then perks you up. Then, you take the next sip…and the next…and the next.

We busied ourselves with our own work and things, sitting inside a comfortable place, nice atmosphere with Christmas songs softly playing through small speakers in the background. The city of Decatur stares at us through the cafe’s wide glass frontal, shivering in its very windy -6deg C temperature.

Coffee Connection is the closest we re going to get to a Hallmarks movie type café. So far. This café is worth visiting again. Now, to zoom into the Christmas festivities here..🎄🎅

NOTES:
1. Mainly popular “kopitiams” (mainly refers to Chinese coffee shops) brands in Malaysia. Setarbak Kopi is based in Kelantan, an eastern state in Peninsular Malaysia.

PICTURESQUE IN ILLINOIS

The sun was the first to be up, bright and early this morning; casting its cheery rays of sunlight across what was already the winter scene for the entire neighborhood.

The bright sun, quite rare for it to be seen at this time of the year, was unashamed to be out first and beat all the other weather conditions to the starting line of the day.

The winter scene usually comes in black, grey, brown and its of white; all mushed together. This does provide some opportunity to capture once-in-a-lifetime shots.

Now, with its showering of its rays and with different intensities of brightness throughout the neighborhood, it turned what would have ordinarily been just a picture to one of picturesque.

Alas, the sun went back to its winter hibernation not long after its dazzling “performance”. The picture that became picturesque, remains as a photo and as a memory.