Sunday, February 23, 2014

Endless Possibilities

“I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you're going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.”
~ C. Joybell C.

I'm quite possibly in love with this quote right now... because it's true. Sometimes you just have to have FAITH. Pure and simple faith. There are no real, hard answers in life.

There are possibilities.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome to 2014!

Sunrise in Michigan's Upper Peninsula - Summer 2013
365 days in the year... that's 365 dawns, and every dawn is a new chance to not just exist but to LIVE. Don't wait for happiness, fulfillment, and inspiration to come to you. Go out and make it happen. Happy New Year!
Another day, another sunrise in the beautiful Upper Peninsula.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Concerning Love

A bad relationship is not in the yelling and fighting but in the silence. For if a couple no longer fights, then they have given up on one another.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cultural Tidbits About Japan

While on vacation in Japan back in June, my husband and I observed some interesting cultural tidbits learned through observation and plenty of trial and error! It was funny because we're Asians and blended in well with the Japanese, so I think many people assumed we were Japanese and expected us to know the particular social norms, behavior, and mannerisms of Japan. But of course, being from the U.S., we didn't know and therefore garnered at times some interesting stares from onlookers. It didn't take long for people to figure out we weren't Japanese though, and honestly, it was part of the fun of exploring the country and culture. :)

Anyway, while in Japan I started jotting down in my iPhone Notes some of these cultural tidbits and differences about the Japanese culture.

- You're not supposed to eat while walking. There were times when we stopped at street stalls to buy food or ice cream and would just continue on our merry way, eating and walking at the same time. It took a few times before we finally noticed that we were the only ones walking around with food in our mouth! Everyone else would buy the food, then just stand right there by the street stall to consume the food and finish it before continuing on their way. No wonder we got a couple weird stares at the bamboo grove in Kyoto when we were eating ice cream while strolling through! 

- When paying for items at a store, always put the money in the little tray by the cash register. Never hand the money directly to the cashier as it's seen as impolite. Thank goodness it was my husband and not me who made our first Japan purchase and had to be taught this!

- At some stores, you have to take your shoes off before entering the fitting room, just as you would in a Japanese home.

- You bag your own groceries. There are no baggers.

- Vending machines are everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Also, they sell everything in vending machines. Literally.

- Japan, despite being known as very technologically advanced, is still largely a cash based system. A lot of places don't take credit cards, so you always have to make sure to have cash on hand.

- A lot of public bathrooms don't have paper towels, and some don't have toilet paper or handsoap! Oh my gosh, this worried me a lot, so I would always make sure to carry those items with me.

- Speaking of bathrooms, some places only have squat toilets. I never got used to those. However, in the larger cities and the places that catered to tourists, there were often spiffy toilets with all the cool perks, such as seat warmer and the bidet with the nozzle that squirts water at your nether regions. Also, a lot of the bathrooms in our hotel rooms had a landline phone next to the toilet.

- Bathtubs in Japan are also taller than the ones in America. Being short, I had to lift my legs up quite a ways to get in and out of the tub (at least it felt like it). A lot of the bathroom mirrors in our rooms also had an anti-fogging area that doesn't fog up when you shower.

- When eating at a Japanese restaurant, put everything back the way it came--lids back on the bowls, etc. Chopsticks are also never placed directly on the table. Rest it on your plate instead.

- Cups, glasses, and mugs are really tiny. Over there, I could literally drink a cup of water in a couple gulps. That's how tiny the cups are! I felt like I could never get enough water in one sitting. Also, most places automatically serve tea instead of water.

- Nobody really talks or plays on their phone while dining. I think it's seen as disrespectful.

- Food is super fresh and less processed. Yumm, I miss that about Japan! After awhile, our stomach got used to eating fresh, healthy food. Our first American fast food meal after our stay in Japan actually made our stomach queasy and our body had to adjust to processed food again. It's no wonder there are very few overweight people in Japan!

- No tipping for any services. That was nice.

- People in Japan talk in low, quiet voices. It's quiet just about everywhere you go... on trains, in stores, on the streets. Of course, the big cities were louder but still relatively quiet compared to here in the U.S.

- When riding the escalator, everyone stands on the left side. The right side is for people who are in a huge rush and want to RUN up the escalator. We didn't figure this out until the very end of our trip! Oh, all the times that I stood on the right side and blocked those people who were rushing! lol

- There are bike parking lots that are sometimes bigger than car parking lots. People ride bikes and walk everywhere. They are a walking society. Again, no wonder there are few overweight people!

That's all I can think of at the moment. I've been meaning to post on here pictures of my Japan trip too, so sometime in the near future, I'll do so.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Images of Fall For Those Deprived of Its Beauty

Through this, may you get a sense of Autumn in America's midwest.

May you see the vibrant colors.
Feel the cool breeze against your skin.
Hear the crinkling leaves under your feet.
Smell the crisp, invigorating air.

Images of the beautiful Earth preparing itself for winter...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Confessions of a Work-a-holic

Quite some time ago, I realized that I was pushing myself too far with work, that I was a work-a-holic. For years now, I've held multiple jobs, never just one. During those years, I've also gone back to grad school and raised three children. It's a work ethic, a set of habits, and a lifestyle I've developed over the years that I've become so accustomed to. As crazy as it sounds, it's hard to let go. I've tried before.

But I know that I need to change that part of myself, for my own benefit and for that of my kids and my husband.

Well, I'm finally able to say that I'm slowly changing. I've been saying no to new contracts from the colleges I adjunct for. In fact, I recently finished the last of the courses for those colleges and am currently teaching for only one--the college I work for full-time. In other words, I only have one job right now.

One job.

That hasn't happened to me in more than 10 years. It's kind of strange. Different.

The other day I was online on a job site. I have this habit of perusing job sites and scouting out work opportunities. I always think to myself, "I'm only going to see what's out there, out of curiosity. I'm not going to apply." But then I see something interesting, and my mind starts churning. My curiosity, that urge I get to always be learning and to always experience new things, gets the best of me. "Maybe I'll apply just for the hell of it. Just to see where it leads," I tell myself. And that is how it always starts. My work-a-holic habits and me... how I wind up with two, sometimes three, jobs at a time.

Well, I was on that job website and I started going down that route again. I got as far as going to this company's website and uploading my resume... and then I stopped. I didn't go any further. I didn't submit my application.

Even now as I think about it, I'm still tempted to go back and apply. It just sounds like such a cool job, and I could get some great work experience out of it!

But I won't. I just have to keep telling myself that I won't apply.

I suppose this in itself--having only one job--is a learning experience. A new kind of work ethic, a new set of habits, a new kind of lifestyle that I'll have to adjust to.

I can do it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tough Mudder 2013 and Getting Fit

I recently took part in a Tough Mudder event, which consisted of almost 12 miles of running and 20+ obstacles.

I had been training for the event since January of this year. I remember back then weighing myself and measuring my body fat. At the time, I was 105lbs and at 21% body fat. I didn't care so much about my weight; in this, I guess I may differ from a lot of other females. Instead, my main goal was to trim myself down to 17% body fat.

I didn't think I could do it, but guess what? I did. Woohoo! I'm now at 110lbs (increase in muscle mass) and the 17% body fat I was aiming for.

In large part, I have to credit a change in my diet. I cut out rice almost completely. So hard to do with rice being a staple of Asian diets. I missed it immensely and still do, but the craving for it is no longer there. I also increased my intake of vegetables and added in foods that I had generally never eaten before, such as quinoa and steel cut oatmeal. For me, changing my eating habits and diet was the hardest part of getting fit.

As for the training, in the beginning, I lifted weights once a week and ran 2 to 3 times a week. Slowly I increased this to lifting 3 times a week and running every other day. I'm most proud of my improvements in running as that has never been something I enjoyed or was very good at.

So what was Tough Mudder like? It was a great experience and a lot of fun! It's really more about teamwork and enjoying the experience than it is about competition.

Some pictures from our Tough Mudder event:

Me getting over a 12ft wall. It really takes teamwork, especially for a shorty like me.
The last and often most dreaded obstacle: the Electric Shock Therapy. Those wires that dangle down deliver a large shock to your body when touched. Ouch!
My husband making his way through dark tunnels and mud.
Incline and decline monkey bars.

Overall, I think everyone should try to do a Tough Mudder or similar event at least once in their life. Just for the heck of it. And if nothing else, let it motivate you to get fit. :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Happiness is not unlike love...

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”

- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert