Jojo's Official Blog
Live The Moment

Sep
14

It was a bit painful for me to move from blogspot to wordpress because I was getting so used to blogspot (which I think is really user friendly) but the problem is I had jojostruys.com AND I had the blogspot url. I wanted it to become ONE. Just makes sense.

So I decided to move to wordpress which I hear is more versatile in the long run. The annoying thing was having a frame within a frame (just like my previous site) which made it difficult to scroll up and down. At least that’s finally gone now! So it looks more holistic 🙂

Along the way, I started changing things to make my site easier on the eyes. For eg, it used to be all black and people were saying it’s not that easy reading on a black background. I had to agree so I’ve kept my site still black but the reading portion now is against white.

There are a number of things I’m still working on but at least I’m now on wordpress without that annoying frame within the frame! That was bugging me and some of you too 🙂

It’s nice having a change. Feels like a new hair cut haha
So it’ll be looking like this till I get the urge to give it another facelift! 🙂

Jojo Struys
Live The Moment
W:www.kyanite.tv W:www.jojostruys.com

Sep
01

I guess I don’t fit into any category of Chinese, Indian or Malay so the most common question I get asked is what race I am or whether I’m mixed.

I don’t take any offence to it because it comes up all the time but it’s not always asked with the right grammar. For eg, I was at the bank and the person serving me asked out of curiousity,

“Excuse me miss, what are you?” So I said female and then she says, “no, la what I mean is, you are mixed is it?”

I don’t feel I suffer any racism in Malaysia and I’m grateful. Questions about my race are more often than not sheer curiosity and due to the fact people like pigeon holing people into however they categorise the world we live in.

I think it’s sad when race gets in the way of our work and relationships. Then, it becomes a thing which divides us. We should be proud of our different backgrounds. This is what makes Malaysia so diverse and fascinating. If we celebrated our differences, then maybe we could come closer to the slogan we seem to see being advertising everywhere (you know the one! 😉

Happy Merdeka all! 🙂
Jojo Struys
Live The Moment
W:www.kyanite.tv W:www.jojostruys.com

Aug
30

From my Star Column “A Different Spin”

When I was flipping through the Star a few weeks ago, an article written by T Selva caught my attention. It was simply entitled “Sweet Silence” At the time, I was yelling at my 3 dogs to stop barking because someone was at the door and my phone was ringing in the middle of me sending off a twitter message. I remember thinking what a terrible example I was of “sweet silence”

I’ve read countless books on how important it is to silence the mind because living in a world surrounded by noise and constant stress can overtax our bodies and drain our creative energies. In the midst of a manic film schedule, I was naturally intrigued by the impending visit of a famous Indian Guru coming to KL called Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (also referred to as Guruji).

He is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, which aims at relieving both individual stress and societal problems and violence. Today, the Art of Living Foundation is the world’s largest volunteer based Non-Governmental Organization, active in over 140 countries. It has touched more than 20 million people from all walks of life, different religions and cultures. The Guruji has also been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Here’s the odd part. I was at the Star two days later for something totally unrelated, and guess who I ran into by sheer coincidence? T Selva! Of all the people working in that building, the author of “Sweet Silence” gave me the contact information I required and said if I was meant to meet the Guruji, it would happen.

As it turned out, I missed the seminar in KL altogether but lo and behold, the Guruji was scheduled to visit Penang. An incredible 13,000 people showed up (see above pic) just to get a glimpse of him and to hear his words of wisdom. In attendance during his one-hour talk was Penang’s Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng. I was actually in Penang during the same dates as Guruji to film my new food show. I couldn’t believe my luck!

I actually ended up having a private audience with him and a select few members of the media in his hotel suite! Words can’t explain how privileged I felt to be meeting him up close and personal. There were so many questions I could have asked but they didn’t seem important in his company. I ended up putting my notebook aside and blurted out, “do you mind if I gave you a hug?” and I scrambled off my chair to give him one!

Just observing a great master who was really present was like Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now coming to life for me. For all his keen intelligence and profound wisdom, there was a child-like quality about him. I didn’t expect him to be funny but he had a sense of humour. He made everyone in that room laugh with the simplest of statements (My Mum and me below watching him throw out chocolates to the press members in the room. Really cute! We got some too! 🙂

Someone asked him what his secret to happiness was and he said, “when you make others happy, it makes you happy” Unfortunately, people always get into the habit of postponing happiness, “once I get the job I’ve always wanted, or that car or dream house, I’ll be happy” yet the moment right now is the only one we have any control of. As Buddha said, “Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

But how do we live the moment in this dog eat, dog world? It’s near impossible to be fully present when our thoughts are leaping from topic to topic like turn tables in our mind. Guruji spoke about the importance of silence in removing stress and anxious thoughts. In ancient texts, it is actually recommended that every individual spend some time in silence every month to strengthen the mind and clear out the clutter of useless, negative thoughts.

This is where our modern lifestyles don’t help. So many of us are addicted to our phones and gadgets. We feel totally lost without them. We keep absorbing more and more input. Even watching TV before you go to sleep is still cramming your brain with more information. How do we give our overworked minds a break? Read the rest of this entry »

Aug
24

My hair has always been super straight. I know, I know. I can hear the admonishing voices of my girlfriends saying, “Well, don’t complain. People go through re-bonding just to have straight hair!” The grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong. I have no problems having straight hair. In fact, it’s really easy to maintain.

Now, I’m not about to go out and perm it but having sudden volume or wispy curls can create different looks and different moods. In this line of work, we are constantly transformed by the wonders of make up and hair styles. My father once walked right past me in a shopping centre as I was waving at him because he didn’t recognize me. He looked behind him and I said “Dad! It’s me. My hair’s different, that’s all!” haha

When good make up artists, photographers and hair stylists come together, they can truly create a work of art. Not to mention it’s really fun to experiment with different looks. In this fashion shot, I was only wearing duct tape all over my chest and I was dreading removing it when I got home *wince* The things we do for fashion eh? The funny thing is I slept with this hair do and it was still piled on top of my head when I woke up! haha 😉 Anyway, I got a call from an event company who asked me if I would be interested in reviewing Schwarzkopf Professional’s new OSIS range. I couldn’t believe my luck! As you know, I hardly do product reviews but I’ve been using their products for years. I’ve always remembered this company for its near impossible name to spell but that’s also what makes them so distinctive haha so I was happy to check it out! http://www.schwarzkopf-professional.com/products/styling/osis/osis-product-range/

This is Curl Me Soft. For a person with straight hair, I was drawn to this first. You only need a small amount on damp hair, then blow dry on medium heat or you’ll end up looking like how I did on the cover of Oxygen lol. Not that there’s anything wrong with it but it’s just not practical to be walking around with so much fly away hair. Curl Me Soft helps to define the curls.

For something more radical or avant garde, you could try backcombing your hair and twisting it here and there, securing it with pins and hair spray. I look nothing like myself in this shot but that’s the whole point. We can completely transform ourselves by putting all the hair up, not forgetting the make up that goes with it (thank you Annie Lim!).

For a hairstyle like this, you could first use Hold Miracle mousse on damp hair. You only need a small amount. This mousse is ultra strong. Notice the number on the can says 4 which is the level of control (1 being the lightest and 4 being the strongest) This mousse can also help to keep curls in place so they don’t untangle or fly away. The Freeze Finish at the end helps to hold the hairstyle in place. It also protects your hair from external influences. Don’t worry about how much hairspray you need to use because it washes out easily!

The flexwax is a no4 strength cream wax. You only require a small amount applied on dry hair to add some texture or to mould your hair into whatever shape you’re after (you can get some funky hair styles with short hair). I use only a tiny amount to make my pony tail neat or to keep the short hairs smoothed back for a slick look.

Last but not least, the Shine Duster which is used on dry hair. Since, it’s like white, shiny dust, it makes me feel like a fairy. You basically sprinkle a small amount into the palms, rub together to liquefy and just work it into your hair. It enhances the shimmer of the hair surface. You can even select what you’d like to focus on to emphasize desired strands.

My hairdresser has been telling me not to be afraid of cutting my hair short or changing my look completely. He says, “it’s just hair. It will grow back” so I’ve had hairstyles and colours I wasn’t happy with but I’m glad I experimented. We all need a bit of change now and then. If you’re too afraid to cut your hair, that’s when styling products like these come in handy to help you to create so many different looks without you needing to do anything so drastic.If u feel like experimenting;

OSIS new range of products can now be purchased at:

1) Derrick & Team ( Mid Valley Megamall / Tel: 03-22822788)
2) O’Inno Hair Salon ( TTDI / Tel: 03-77262180)
3) Ivan & Max ( Damansara Perdana / Tel : 03-77105606)
4) 8 Days ( Bukit Bintang / Tel: 03-21424888)
5) Red of Hair ( Setapak / Tel: 03-41496383)

Have fun with your hair! It’s like the clothes we wear. If you’re wearing the same outfit everyday, it becomes your uniform. Don’t be predictable. Kill routine because routine becomes boring after a while! 🙂

Aug
20

There was a guy I knew who used to hold his girlfriend’s hand with great pride whenever she was dolled up but he wasn’t as eager to hold her hand when she was dressed down with no make-up. She noticed this so she wore make up at all times coz she became insecure about her appearance. Kinda sad really. There has to be more to any relationship than just looks!

It bothers me too if I date someone who needs my face to be picture perfect coz it’s not real life. I would hate to feel pressure to look a certain way so sometimes I do the opposite on dates.

I dress down if I’m really interested in someone (I showed up in slippers and no make up at all for one of my longest relationships) because ultimately, I need to be with someone who I can completely be myself with.

If yourself in the flesh isn’t good enough for him/her, then it never will be. You’re better off looking for someone who really connects with you and genuinely likes you for YOU! 🙂 Jojo Struys
Live The Moment
W:www.kyanite.tv W:www.jojostruys.com

Aug
19

It was about 7am, still really dark and all my dogs were leashed. A German Expat with a really tiny dog walked past me on the footpath (ironic really for such an angry personality. His dog was so small it looked like a large hamster!)

Anyway, while the dog was strolling past, Pickle suddenly bolted toward his dog. The lead slipped out of my hands.

The man tried to grab the end of Pickle’s lead to stop her from chasing his precious, snowy white little dog. In frustration, he threw his body over Pickle (who’s just a small pug trying to play with his dog).

Seeing him rugby tackle my dog didn’t alarm me. It was how he gave her back to me. You see, it was so dark I couldn’t really see his face. I honestly had no idea how mean this man was.

When he finally got hold of the lead, he roughly shoved it my way as though he was throwing it at me. My brain didn’t register the fact that Pickle was dangling in thin air. He was hanging her like a rag doll to return my dog to me. This all happened in a matter of seconds so ofcourse Pickle was alright but wtf????

Crazily, I mumbled “sorry, sorry” and this man looked me in the eye, pointed an angry finger near my face and said “not good enough. Unforgivable! Look where you’re going next time” and he stomped off with his tiny white dog.

OMG!!! I was so shaken by how rude he was that it took a while for his cruel treatment of my dog to sink in. I couldn’t even say anything as I watched his back disappear round the bend. It was too late. He vanished into the morning mist. What a man!

I haven’t seen him in the park since and I pity his dog, wife (if he has one) and anyone who works with this irate, impatient, awful man.

If he could do this so heartlessly to a dog over such a small thing, makes me shudder to think what he would do if big things went wrong. This guy’s seriously got anger management issues.

Don’t know if it’s happened to you where you feel something is happening before your eyes and you wished you said something but you said nothing! I can’t believe I apologized to him!

However, as I was trying to calm down in the car, I did the opposite of what one might do in a situation like this. I found myself sending him good thoughts. Sure, it wasn’t easy but when you send out “love” to someone you’re pissed off with or intensely dislike, it releases you from feeling so bad about a situation.

Some people may find this too difficult to do but it makes sense. When you’re angry with someone, you’re the one who’s suffering so what’s the point? It’s better to let it go. Why should I let this horrid man get under my skin? Just not worth it. Well, I hope I don’t run into that a**hole again but I’m sure he would be surprised to know that I sent him “positivity and compassion” Jojo Struys
Live The Moment
W:www.kyanite.tv W:www.jojostruys.com

Aug
09

Guys, this is what I wrote about in my Star column today. I interviewed various people, including Daphne Iking on maternity leave as well as paternity leave (see video). The article from the Star is enclosed below. Do let me know what your views are?Everyone is different. In my humble opinion, 2 months is not enough. This was from extensively researching the topic and seeing what other countries are doing…  

It would be wise to give a new mum more time than rushing her back to work.

As A mom, you have to look at how much time you’re spending with your kids. There is nothing you will regret more in your life – nothing – than not being present for your children.” – Jamie Lee Curtis

I’ve lost count of the sheer number of people I’ve spoken to on the topic of maternity leave. The majority of mothers I came into contact with, including Malaysians writing to me via Twitter and Facebook, said they would really appreciate three months compared with two months.

Malaysia has one of the lowest allotted maternity leave in comparison to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Japan and China – all of which provide a minimum of three months.

Singapore recently increased its maternity leave from three months to four months, moving forward with the recommendation by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). At the moment, fewer than 30 of 183 countries around the globe are not meeting ILO’s minimum requirement of three-month maternity leave.

If you ask anyone the ideal number of days for maternity leave, you would get a melting pot of answers. It really depends on who you speak to and which country you’re in.

For employers in Malaysia, thinking of their profits and potential losses, they would rather hang on to the status quo “let’s keep it to two months”.

For employers who are thinking long term and value the physical and mental well-being of their staff, they would say “take more than two months” because they feel it’s wiser to wait rather than rush a new mother back to the office and might have returned too soon to properly focus on her job.

This is a real possibility considering how the majority of new mothers tend to suffer from lack of sleep with round-the-clock caring and feeding of their newborn babies. And what about postnatal depression? That adds a whole new dimension of stress on the mother, baby and husband.

Chances are, he might have returned to work already. Paternity leave in Malaysia is currently only three days!

According to the Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia, postnatal depression can affect approximately one in eight women. It doesn’t matter how rich or glamorous you are because a lot of successful people have gone through it.

When Gwyneth Paltrow gave birth to her second child, she said, “I expected to have another period of euphoria following his birth, much the way I had when my daughter was born two years earlier. Instead, I was confronted with one of the darkest and most painfully debilitating chapters of my life.”

I myself have a friend who had all the symptoms ranging from anxiety, crying episodes, irritability and not being able to sleep even when she was drop-dead tired.

Her husband couldn’t understand it because they had been trying for a baby for quite some time. When she finally got pregnant, she was so excited that she started buying baby clothes in advance and reading all kinds of books on how to be a good mother. However, after her delivery, she didn’t even want to be in the same room as her baby.

Brooke Shields had a similar case, even harbouring suicidal thoughts in her well-documented post partum depression. The milder version of this, usually called baby blues, can affect as many as half of all women who give birth, but these mothers can still function despite their sudden mood swings.

In Europe, a mother having enough time to bond with her newborn baby is taken very seriously. In Britain, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, maternity leave is a minimum of one year with several European countries allowing women to share their maternity leave with their husbands.

In a new British study, it was discovered that almost a third of women are the main breadwinners in their households earning more than their partners.

Hence, a working mother may want her husband to use up her maternity leave once she’s ready to return to the office and that’s the beauty of the freedom of choice and allowing couples to decide what works best for them.

It recognises the demands of the present day. Men are getting more hands-on with bringing up their children, which is why paternity leave is so important.

In Malaysia, paternity leave at three days is not only too short to bond with your own child, it’s also too short of a timeframe to fully support your wife in the aftermath of this life changing event.

As for women who have Caesarian operation, they are not even released from the hospital until two to four days after delivery.

Speaking of working Malaysian mothers, the daily struggles they face are balancing breastfeeding and working at the same time. According to the World Health Organisation and the American Academy of Paediatrics, both strongly recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.

This becomes challenging if local companies don’t provide breastfeeding or daycare facilities for their employees.

One mother I spoke to said: “When I needed to go back to work, I had to stop breastfeeding because there was no room or facility in my company to continue breastfeeding her at work.

“The other problem I faced was that my baby could not be weaned off to drink from the bottle. I ended up resigning from my company to become a stay-at-home mum.”

Every woman is different just as every pregnancy is unique. I’m not saying Malaysia should follow European countries and go from two months of maternity leave to a year.

That would be a sudden leap but what about just a small, baby step, excuse the pun. Let’s look at the current debate on whether maternity leave should be increased from two months to three months.

Now, a month isn’t a massive difference in the grand scheme of things but it might make a huge difference to a working mother who could really use that extra time to recover and settle in with her newborn.

Returning to work in a calmer, more positive state when she’s ready isn’t just good for a mother and her newborn. It could represent better productivity at the workplace, too.

> A video of Jojo Struys interviewing various Malaysians including celebrity mother Daphne Iking on how they feel about maternity and paternity leave can be viewed on jojostruys.com and the staronline. Jojo Struys is a TV host/producer living in KL.

Aug
02

I had a fabulous time in Penang shooting alongside a European chef who taught me heaps abt food. Made me realise it was pretty much a science because he studied molecular cooking. Yup, I’m serious. He was just this fountain of knowledge. I’d tell you his name but we’re only half way through production so I’ll save it for later (all will be revealed in good time! 🙂

Anyway, my personal list of pros on doing a food show are:

1) Knowledge and more knowledge! Every chef is different but you start to realise there are many ways to cook a single dish.

2) It broadens your horizons because you end up trying so many different kinds of food. I ate dishes I would never order and was pleasantly surprised.

3) I’ve never shot a show strictly dedicated to food so it’s always nice to spread my wings into another genre.

4) Everyone loves good food. It’s something a lot of us are passionate about. It was nice seeing my whole crew get excited too when the dish was done. Gosh, we finished off every delicious “prop” on the show haha 🙂

The list of pros is fairly endless but here are the cons:

1) You eat too much! It’s hard to resist. You know the saying, “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips” Well, too bad! Home cooked food by a great chef doesn’t happen every day so I just had to eat everything! It was so indulgent.

2) It’s hard eating “normal” food after being spoiled by such fine food for a whole week!

3) Makes you want to start cooking like a chef yourself but it’s not realistic. Chefs are professionals. They spend A LOT of time learning, practising and getting everything right to be so consistent. I don’t have that sort of time so guess I’ll just be the social cook 🙂

I had a different learning curve on set this time and I love learning new things so I can’t think of anymore cons so that’s that! Jojo Struys
Live The Moment
W:www.kyanite.tv W:www.jojostruys.com

Jul
29

The last time I was in Penang was to do a charity fashion show so I really didn’t get to explore it. I was in Queensbay mall all day and had to fly back to KL the next day.

This time round, I had a chance to interview a traditional medicine expert on his organic farm nestled in the hills 1000ft above sea level and it amazed me how beautiful Penang was.

Just seeing the sea was such a nice change from KL. They seem to have a bit of everything. They have good food, old heritage buildings (see the olden window behind me in this photo) which brings you back to a colonial era, and a pace of life which is not too fast, not too slow.

And oh, is it just me or did you guys always know what Pulau Pinang stands for? I can’t believe I just found out that it means the island of Beetlenuts! I didn’t know!

Anyways, I’ve gotta run. They’re calling me back to set. This new food show I’ve been shooting has been pretty full on but I’m learning heaps!!

The good and bad thing about being on a food set is like being surrounded by temptation 24/7. Aiyo, I’m always eating, always food tasting what the chef has created (coz u gotta taste everything ma). Hope I don’t get toooo fat shooting this show haha

Ok, really2 gotta dash! Laters
Jojo Struys
Live The Moment
W:www.kyanite.tv W:www.jojostruys.com

Jul
26

Real-life angels in a selfish world
A Different Spin
By JO-JO STRUYS

When you meet people who think more of others rather than themselves, it’s such a refreshing change and gives hope to humanity that we aren’t all the same.

WE live in such a selfish world where everything seems to revolve around “me, me, me”. Nothing is ever enough, “I want more money, a bigger house, a better life” so, when you meet people who think more of others rather than themselves and are more interested in giving rather than taking, it’s such a refreshing change.

It gives hope to humanity that we aren’t all the same.

In truth, people who “do good” are all around us from the stranger you pass on the street to the unassuming girl at work you never knew was trying to save tigers. For me, I wanted to zoom in on one particular person whose dedication and work with disabled children has had a profound impact on their lives.

Edwin Nathaniel, founder of Aseana Percussion Unit and highly experienced drummer, has been showing up quietly every Thursday for more than 10 years to conduct a percussion class at the Spastic Children’s Association in PJ.

It is hard to put into words the power of music, which is why it has been used as therapy even for stroke victims. Music has been found to stimulate different portions of the brain helping to increase motivation levels and positive emotions.

As Billy Joel said, “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by.”

It was hard for me to not be affected when I was standing in the semi-circle of wheelchairs in Edwin’s percussion class. Just before the class started, a kid in a wheelchair was struggling to take his jacket off. A child who was not wheelchair-bound immediately appeared by his side to help him.

I was moved beyond words just watching a child who was disabled and unsteady on his feet, trying so hard to unbutton his classmate’s jacket. What sort of unselfish world was this that I had stepped into?

Just observing the look of concentration on his face, I was humbly reminded to not take my mobility for granted. Removing one’s jacket is something most of us could do in seconds. We don’t even think twice about changing gears while driving or returning an SMS while walking.

Considering how such simple movements were such an effort for these kids, you can imagine how blown away I was to witness Edwin’s class in percussion, alongside “Aunty Chan”, “Cikgu Rani” “and “Uncle Paul,” who the students affectionately call them.

They were all shaking bells, counting beats and striking the drums in a near perfect ensemble. Most of them were wheelchair-bound, including the boy who could not remove his jacket but he was shaking his bell to the beat, in all the right parts of the song.

Like many miracles, this did not happen overnight. Edwin started from scratch in 1999 in a classroom almost devoid of musical instruments. His students were fascinated by the sound of his drum and he’s never looked back since.

Playing any instrument takes rhythm and coordination. They had to work so much harder due to their limited coordination skills but they were excited to be a part of this class.

For them, playing drums, tambourines and bells, do more than just that – they were also having fun and gaining a lot of confidence.

Learning songs also took longer than usual but they never gave up. Kids who were shy now take the lead and there were kids who couldn’t count the beats, but now they can. The dedication of these students has led to improvements across the board in their motor skills, social skills and overall confidence.

Once, there was a new girl who was brought in by her mother to try out the class. She sat in the front row but did not participate. When she heard all the instruments, she screamed and started crying.

Edwin thought the sound of the drums had upset her. Her mother immediately took her out of the class to console her. This was an exception, not the rule, because most of the kids love the sound of music.

Hence, Edwin thought he wouldn’t see her again but surprisingly, she came of her own accord the following week and sat in front of the class. She told her mother she wanted to learn how to play the drums. She became yet another dedicated student.

The children are so committed to this class that Edwin receives calls from them on the occasions he can’t make it, “Uncle Edwin, how come you’re not here today?” – which he finds very touching because this class has become a part of their lives, and so has he.

Edwin’s friend and volunteer Paul Lau said it’s such a joy to work with them. “Just seeing their faces when you walk into the classroom says it all. It’s an incredible feeling. Who wouldn’t want to come back?”

It was almost infectious. One of the first things I noticed was how much fun everyone was having, adults included. Whenever a joke was cracked, the whole class erupted in laughter.

Edwin has literally seen these kids grow up over the years. In fact, one of his students who had graduated, had difficulty finding work and started selling tissues at an LRT station.

Edwin ran into him by chance and the boy’s face lit up when he saw his ex-music teacher. He was smiling from ear to ear in his wheelchair, “Hi! Uncle Edwin! I’m working now. Have to do some business”. With the odds stacked against him, he was just trying to earn an honest living.

It was a real eye-opener spending a morning with these children. We should all be asking ourselves if we’ve taken any time out from our busy schedules to do any community service.

Paul says, “Just spend an hour a week, if that’s all you can spare. An hour of your personal time can go a long way”.

So let’s start thinking about anyone other than ourselves for a moment. What skills do we have that we can share with others whether it’s animals, the elderly, or children who are waiting for you to put a smile on their face?

Jojo Struys is TV host, blogger and active twitterer @jojo_struys. The video Jojo shot of this special percussion class can be viewed at the star online and jojostruys.com