Saturday, December 19, 2009

THE VOICE OF MY HEART - A Personal Christmas Message

Now this is the real problem – there is really nothing outstanding or worth shouting about. I am really the most “un-accomplished” person (if there is even such a word) in the world. Where people are so busy presenting their resumes and CVs, I am just at a point where I have only just begun.

I am really nothing special. Period.

No one expects anything to come from me.

Even I did not expect anything of value to come from myself.
I have studied in Singapore (Swiss Cottage Primary and Secondary School), Malaysia (Garden International School), London (Holborn College for ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels) and USA.

Was studying for the undergraduate course of Marketing and Human Resource Management.

I have not graduated to this day, because I went ahead to open my club in Oklahoma City.

Yes, I used to own a dance club/bar.

Yes, I was that crazy.

I just wanted to put into practice what I have learnt in all these years and found the perfect opportunity to do so. I figured that I could always come back and finish my final course in order to graduate, if it was absolutely necessary.

Oh, to hell with justifying that club foray - let's cut the B.S - I just wanted to HAVE FUN, FUN, FUN.

No, I do not drink, smoke or do drugs.

I am already very highly strung and tightly wound as it is. With any more intoxicants of any sort - I'd be swinging on the chandeliers and scaling the walls like Spidey. We do not need another crazy looney on the loose.

I JUST LOVED TO DANCE. Yes, really, seriously.

I guess, this is when I was the spoilt rich brat. Because I always knew that I did not NEED a degree and the qualification is irrelevant when I was going to be absorbed into the family business eventually.

The Club gave me some measure of success and the freedom to buy everything that I did not need – a Porsche 968 convertible, a Range Rover, a Harley Davidson Fat Boy, a jet ski, etc.

Life was different back then.

Shirley was very different back then.

My claim to Fame: Obtained the liqour licence on my own for the club, got the Fire Department to award the maximum occupancy allowed for a club – 880 people, learnt how to sing, dance and spin due to the unpredictability of DJs and performers, learnt how to be a waitress, bartender and even a chef when staff failed to show up at work, had to clean up bathrooms when no one wanted to, and got famous bands like “No Doubt”, “Red Hot Chili Peppers” and “Planet of Soul” to perform at my club. Held the coolest Halloween Party ever in Oklahoma City!

Returned to Malaysia in Dec 1996. Back into the real world.

Hated being back and wanted to literally run away.

Worked for the United Overseas Bank (UOB) as a Management Trainee, then joined Siemens Corporate Communications and worked on their corporate sponsorship for the Commonwealth Games in 1998. That was a lot of fun. Got to do all the PR, Advertising and Promo campaign.

My claim to Fame - changed the way they advertise. We started the trend of having the public buses all painted with the Siemens Logo and Products plastered all over the public buses. It was the first ever in Malaysia at that time. This translated into trains, etc.

Then I was recruited into the family business. Started with the Shipping Company as the HR Director and revamped the entire corporate culture.

Became rather successful at it that I was later brought into the Palm Oil Plantation and Milling Company to embark on a 2 year complete re-engineering program of the whole organization.

Then I was brought into the family’s mixed urban development project named Pavilion. I was holding two positions: Director of Business Development and Director of Food & Beverage. My job was to create or acquire new food and beverage concepts into the mall, and cultivate a portfolio of special brands for the Pavilion brand. I travelled all over the world, meeting famous chefs, restaurantiers, hoteliers and etc for Pavilion. Would liase with owners of H&M, Indochine, Fashion Bar, Ministry of Sound, etc.

I was living the high life - the coveted jet setting lifestyle.

No, I still don't smoke, drink or do drugs.

I like to be FULLY AWARE when I am having fun, and experiencing life or other sensory pursuits, for that matter.

I guess, the living testament is in Pavilion winning the coveted Fiabci award as the best mall in the world, beating out Shanghai in June 2009.

So, I can actually go around saying that Malaysia has the best mall in the world now.


Got married in 1999, got divorced in 2001.

Lost my beloved paternal grandmother in 2003. She was the sun in our solar system.

Met my Tibetan Guru, H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche in 2004.

From there on, my perspective of life began to shift and my priorities began to change.

From November 2006 onwards, I started doing more social work.

Became the President of Kechara Soup Kitchen – distributing food to the homeless in the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Then gave up my role as my travel schedules became too hectic at Pavilion.

Yes, I should have listened to my Guru when HE said that I should have quit my post at the Pavilion. But I didn't and shame on me, because I had caused so many problems for various people in the process and even our Kechara Soup Kitchen suffered due to my lack of attention, commitment and complete lack of responsibility. I shall always remember this painful lesson. I never want to let anyone down again.

Now, Kechara Soup Kitchen is headed by a super-fabulous team, headed by Ms. Ruby Khong. To say the least, they kick-ass to help the homeless and those less unfortunate in the streets of Klang Valley, Malaysia. Please check them out at

Worked with various local and regionally NGOs, including the Malaysia’s Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.

Defining moments: Visited a Kids’ Center in downtown Kuala Lumpur, and learnt horror stories of child pronography, child sex trade, etc. Boys and girls, as young as 7 and 8, had already been forced to “service” up tp 6 clients a night.

I was never the same after that visit.

Subsequently, I had more encounters with more NGOs and learnt of the many different harrowing plights of women and children in Asia.

They were enough to shatter my "old perceived" world, and previously held "ideals".

Decided in January 2008 to make that drastic change in my life.

Resigned from all my positions in all the family businesses and companies.

Started to conceptualise media programs with strong social relevance.

Wanted to create a media company that is built on social values and social relevance.

Hence, Life Teachers with Shirley Maya was created.

Hence, the birth of Revolver Asia.

From here on, my life is VERY different.

For one, it is lived out with purpose.

And I truly have to thank my Guru for every single thing.

HE never abandoned me, even when I have abandoned myself many times over.

HE saw the best of me, when I saw the worst of myself.

HE said media is perfect for me. So, if you can imagine an "anti-social with a deep attachment to her bed" doing media work, this is how she looks like! Hahaha.

What can I say, my Guru is uber-cool. I can finally appreciate why media is good for me.

With HIS guidance and help, I know I am on my way. And I am no longer afraid.

For the longest time, I could not understand or even imagine why my Guru loves HIS OWN ROOT GURU SO MUCH and SO DEEPLY. My Guru's Root Guru is H.H. Zong Rinpoche.

To this day, my Guru tells us openly that he misses his Zong Rinpoche, because Zong Rinpoche taught HIM everything.

That bond and love that THEY both shared runs deeper than anything that I could ever fathom.

I have not witnessed anything like it and often wondered what it is all about.

After 5 years of being a student of H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, only now I am beginning to catch a glimpse of it.

Our Gurus are truly our beginning and our end.

(If you would like to understand more, please go into and read about what every student has written on their own experiences with Rinpoche. My story is also there.)

I have met so many amazing individuals in so many different countries. Especially my dearest brothers, sisters and partners in the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia itself.

It would not have been possible if I did not start this media journey. And I cannot imagine how much of life I would have completely missed out if I had not.

I would not have met Mr. Tony Meloto and be so warmly welcomed into his family. He is the founder of the NGO: GAWAD KALINGA in the Philippines. They have evolved from a social youth program to a nation building program. He and his legions of volunteers are heroes of humanity and the shining examples of love without borders. Please check them out at

I cannot imagine missing out on the Melotos in this life. What a great loss it would have been for me if I had remained in my old gilded cage.

This has been the most meaningful journey. One which I could never have walked on my own, or even started. Therefore, I can honestly say that my work is my life, my life is my work. There is no boring moment ever.

I guess, words are cheap and meaningless at this stage when so much has been uttered and promised.

So, let us all witness the results as they arise.

Let these results speak volumes for me, for us and what we have set out to do with Revolver Asia. Affectionately known to friends as RevAsia. (

The honour and glory will always lie with the people in my life and those whom I have come across. In their own unique way, they have nurtured me and brought out a whole new being in me. From my Guru, to my daughter, to my parents, sisters, relatives and dearest friends.

Every fibre in my being is a testament of their greatness, their kindness and grace. Truly, deeply and absolutely.

For this and more, I shall always, ALWAYS value PEOPLE first and foremost.

It has been a real priviledge, an honour and a deep profound gratification beyond words.

Thank you for allowing me inside your world and your private space.

Thank you for all the valuable lessons and meaningful sharing.

When my time on earth comes to an end in this life, I will joyfully smile and relfect upon how I have been so blessed to witness the glorious beauty of life and the triumphant human spirit in every sense of the word.

It is for the love of this human race that I wrote this poem and dedicate to all of you.

A Blessed Christmas to each and every one. And to all, a most fulfilling NEW YEAR!


I am the lyre
That sings all the melodies

For every child,
There’s a sweet lullaby
For every lover,
There are songs of ecstasy
For every loss,
There are painful tunes.

I kiss each hand
I nurse each wound
I embrace one and all
Close to my breast
In the name of Love.

I am the keeper
Of memories old and lost
When no one even cares
To remember anymore
I’ll continue to sing
Those forgotten rhymes
So that every legacy
Can be honoured
And remembered.

I am the earth
That holds all life
In its purity and beauty
Every young bud
Until they all bloom
To hold their own grace.

I provide the common ground
For all to stand strong and tall
And remind each one
How to hold hands
And be united
In our hearts and mind.

As we celebrate our differences
We must cherish our innate values
So we can all be reminded
Where we each came from
And learn to respect one another.

I’d give my heart away
If it saves another,
I’d give up my life
If it feeds a dying baby,
Because this is the way
I was taught to love
By my GURU.

I bear the scars
For those I have loved
I cry the tears
For those who have lost love
Beyond yesterday and tomorrow
Lies here and now.

I will not do what I want
But what others need
Because this is the way
My GURU has taught me
How to LIVE.

And when my strings
Are old and weary
I’ll slip quietly into the dark
Careful not to disturb
The music of the youth
And resign myself
To the sounds of silence.

Who am I,
What am I,
And whom do I live for?
I, myself, don’t quite understand
But as a woman
I’ve moved from being a daughter,
To a wife, and to a mother,
And I’ve learnt that even in death
Our work is never done
Because a woman’s love
Surpasses time and space.

Your humble servant,
Shirley Maya


  1. wow..I checked out your Guru's teachings on you tube. He is cool. Even his books are being sold in Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Neat.

  2. I love this post! Touches me deeply.

  3. This is very beautiful and touches me deeply. Thank you Shirley!


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