Well, here it is. I am 42 years old today. How do I feel?
Actually, pretty good. A lot has happened since the last time I had a birthday.
Moved to Singapore
That was a big one. I first arrived in Japan in December 1990 and, except for 8 months in 1992, lived in Japan until December 2007 - nearly 17 years. In Japan, all of my dreams came true, and until 2007 I fully expected to work my entire professional career there. I got married there, started a family there, made lifelong friends there; Everything I could have wished for and beyond. Japan truly exceeded my wildest expectations for how my life could become. I am truly grateful.
Am I sad about the move? No way. We all have to continue to challenge ourselves, and this was a great time to come here. It has been good for my family, and it has been good for me. I hope I can stay in Singapore at least 5 more years.
A part of me will always be in Japan, and a part of Japan will always be in me.
Started Kali Majapahit
I believe good luck (or just the unintended good benefits of good choices) happens when we do the right things. Finding Ni Tien soon after I arrived in Singapore was a great stroke of luck. I have always been fascinated by Filipino Martial Arts, and now I have a chance to train with some of the best in the world. Guro Fred is simply amazing; and his approach to delivering FMA is comprehensive and well-planned. I want to train here as much as possible for as long as I can.
Kali Majapahit is going to become the cornerstone of my life as a martial arts instructor. I test for Phase 3 (and move to Intermediate Level) on Saturday 8 November.
Achieved Shodan (first degree black belt) in Yoshinkan Aikido
After nearly 4 years of waking up at 4 AM to go to Yoshinkan aikido 5:45 AM class at RYA Dojo, I ended up testing for my shodan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in August - at 41 years old. Loving Kali does not mean I love Yoshinkan any less - they are very different aspects of my personality. Being graded by Shihan Joe Thambu, the first non-Japanese to be recognized as shihan (master teacher) in Yoshinkan, was a rare honor. Having Sensei Ramlan Ahmed, my current master, grade me was a blessing. Having Sensei Farid Ambiah, my kindred spirit and inspiration, as my uke was an extra bonus. That was a great weekend. It has been about 20 years since I took a black belt test, and I am proud to have had the focus to pass. I hope I did not disappoint Sensei Michael Steumpel and Sensei Roland Thompson from RYA, and in my heart I will be "5:45 Forever".
Yoshinkan Aikido will be an important part of my curriculum as a martial arts instructor.
Decided to get my master's degree in Finance
I have not been a student for 16 years (graduate of North Central College in 1992). Can I do it again? A master's of science in finance is a tough and very focused degree, the only one of its kind offered in Singapore. I am hoping this will take my skills to the next level. After having worked in the high tech industry focusing on technology licensing, software project management, and system integration for the early part of my career, I became a broker in 2000 by joining CAI in Tokyo. Now, after a brief stint at Lehman Brothers, I am at JP Morgan, one of the biggest and best banks on Earth.
I decided I LOVE capital markets, and I want to be in this business for the rest of my career. A year from now I doubt I will be doing the same job I do now (let's hope not!) and may not even be in the same firm anymore (let's hope not!), but I will be somewhere - serving clients and trying to do this business the best I can. My degree officially starts on Friday, 14 November.
I am glad with the way things have gone for the past year. I have momentum and velocity in my life again - achieving things, and it feels great. I am stronger and happier than last year. I am excited about what my 42nd year on Earth will bring.
In the end, that's all that matters, right?