Saturday, 22 September 2012

jewellery storage

I have two empty boxes of Ferrero Rochers that I use as jewellery storage. One is for necklaces and the other for earrings. I have had them for at least five years and they were getting chipped on the edges where the top and bottom touch. So Anthony and I just had to eat our way through two new boxes so that I could replace them!

Voila, my new box of earrings.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

"you smell nice"

The person behind me on the bus smells really good. A bit fresh, a little like apples, just enough to notice and enjoy. I wonder what it is that makes me so happy to be near that smell? I want to turn and ask about it and give a compliment.

The bus lurches to the side and my head swivels. I see the shoe attached to the leg of the person behind. It's a man! Ah, no. There is now no acceptable way for me to comment. I run though the options in my mind. Every conversation I can imagine that starts with "You smell nice" ends with awkwardness or embarrassment or both. I also try to visualise what would happen if I passed the man a note saying he had a pleasant aroma - maybe as I exit the bus. No, there is just no way to give a strange man a compliment.

Well, then, thank you strange man, for making my bus journey more calm and fresh-smelling. I hope you have a good day. And I hope someone else finds a socially acceptable way to appreciate you.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

feeling happy?

Answer me this: Which of these two options makes you happier?

1. Tidying the living room?
2. Ignoring the mess and watching TV?

As it turns out, I have discovered that a quick way to feel happy today is to get something done. I have realised that I actually feel better after a little tidying than if I ignore it and choose to "relax" instead. Funny, isn't it? And I've been reading a bit about this in the book Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal: "It turns out that almost nothing makes us happier than good, hard work." She's referring to "work" that we choose ourselves, that has some positive feedback when we've done it. That's because we enjoy the sense of accomplishment of improving something.

McGonigal actually says that things we think of as relaxing, like chilling out, TV, eating chocolate, don't make us feel better. They are actually mildly depressing because they are so undemanding and low-engagement. We are happier avoiding those passive entertainments and seeking out a more positive, active task. "We'd be much better off," she writes, "avoiding easy fun and seeking out hard fun, or hard work that we enjoy, instead."

What do you think? Do you enjoy some "good, hard work"?

Sunday, 10 June 2012

lost and found

I was wandering in Soho recently and saw these items. A pair of shoes, empty, on the edge of the road. And a hat, on a pole, next to a big pile of rubbish.

When I go out with my camera I want to take pictures of the people I see. But I am shy. Taking pictures of the lost items is easier. And always strange.

Monday, 28 May 2012

post-workout drink

I do some hard exercise on Mondays. I work out with a group of colleagues, who have arranged a personal trainer to come to school and run a session with us at 5pm. As a reward after a hard workout, I have been buying (during my lunch duty at the canteen) a little box of chocolate milk. I have been enjoying it on my way home.

Today I had a brainwave. I brought in my empty water bottle, with a scoop of vanilla protein powder in it. Then I poured in the chocolate milk, shook it up, and stashed it in the staff room fridge. Then afterwards I had a wonderful, cold, creamy drink; a great reward!

Friday, 25 May 2012

mundane life things

It is a long time since I have blogged here. So I am using the only productivity strategy I have: just start with any small step. Thus, a post of mundane items. Its sole purpose it to restart a habit. This post has no other intrinsic value.

I have a mosquito bite on my elbow. What an awkward place for a bite. I have learned that I eat with my elbows on the table a lot. My grandfather would sing at me to chastise me if he could see.

I ate spaghetti with tomato sauce for lunch and accompanied this with a bowl of cherry tomatoes. Here's to more tomatoes! I love their summery flavour.

It's almost too hot for running now, except in the early morning. Sadly my running partner can only meet after work. It has been very sweaty recently. Also, I desperately need some sports sunglasses that I can wear while running.

I have started attending a Bible study group again for the first time in more than a year. It feels good to get some weekly Christian input from friends. And we eat together, which is good.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

my exercise log

I use this little diary as my exercise log. It's just a small one I got for free from a textbook representative. But it's been invaluable in tracking my exercise this year.

Each day I exercise, I write it down in the diary. (Click on the picture to see a bigger version.) I write a bit about what I did, how much time it took, and how I felt. Usually I include three faces, which show my mood before, during, and after exercise. I have noticed that the "after" face is almost always happy. Now I know that even if I feel rubbish while running, I will feel better at the end. This helps when I am struggling.

And I have been using ticks on the year planner pages to show how my exercise habit is developing. In March, I exercised 23 times! I'm proud of that and it is motivating me to make April also a fit month. I have circled my two big events this year. On January 14 I did the Green Power Hike, which was a 50 km walk along the Hong Kong trail. And on March 4, I ran a 10 km event. Now the next challenge seems to be a half marathon. I am a bit nervous about committing to it, though, so I haven't registered for a race, yet. When I do, I'll circle the date and that will give me something to work towards.

Do you track your exercise?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

reasons to keep running

I was reading in Runner's World this month that the best way to stay motivated to exercise is to enjoy it. Well, duh, that sounds a little obvious. But the more I stop to think about it, the more true I see that it is. I can think of four things that I have found really enjoyable this month:

1. I love the fresh air feeling when I run. I am fortunate enough to live in a part of Hong Kong where the air is quite good and I have a sea view as I run. Being outside with the breeze and the water is wonderful and it's a feeling that I can sense as I get out of bed to lace on my shoes.

2. I have found a great source of fun music for my runs: Rock my Run. The DJ-produced mixes that I have downloaded there are upbeat and motivating. They are full of positive and fun songs that make me look forward to running. Sometimes I want to sing along as I run.

3. Running a race recently makes me want to continue training. I ran my first 10 km two weekends ago and it was so fun. My training went really smoothly in the six weeks leading the to race and I managed to pace myself on the race. Anthony came out to congratulate me with a tiny bottle of champagne (and take these pictures). It was such a thrill to finish the race and I felt great. I want to feel that way again!

4. I do a group exercise sessions twice a week and the friends who exercise with me are such fun to be with. Exercising with them is fun like hanging out together. And recently I have been texting Sonya about my running and that's fun, too, because she is also training for a race (20 km!) and we have been encouraging each other.

So I think I am inclined to agree with Runner's World, it's motivating to enjoy your exercise. So find something you enjoy or take steps to make your current routine more enjoyable.

What do you like about exercise?

Sunday, 5 February 2012

the gratitude of a runner

I have been running on and off for about a year. I still consider myself a novice. But I finally feel as though I am making progress. For the first six months I could run about ten or fifteen minutes at a time. I took walk breaks for one or two minutes after that. After about six months I could run about 5 km by doing this.

As I was starting running, I also started reading Runner's World and Zest in print and online. More recently I started reading Oxygen as well, a more serious women's fitness magazine. These have inspired me to continue and made me feel so grateful to be able to run. As it turns out, I am finding it spiritually thrilling, too.

I am aware that moving my body in exercise is a gift. Staying injury-free takes some work, too, and I'm grateful when I can do it. I have been listening to a Christian music playlist while running. One song is by Mary Mary and starts off with a spoken voice-over: "Whoa, it sure is hot out here. I don't mind though; just glad to be free." Every time I hear this as I am hot and sweaty, I am overcome with gratitude that I can be free: both free to run, and free to know Jesus. He has set me free from slavery to sin, and moving my legs somehow feels like a celebration of this. The song begins and the lyrics pump out: "You took the shackles off my feet so I can dance! I just want to praise you! I just want to praise you."

I feel as though I am using well the gift of health I have been given by looking after my body and keeping it fit. And so I also want to look after the amazing gift of spiritual freedom, by exercising my faith muscles by talking about Jesus and spending time with him.

Is there any connection for you between physical and spiritual exercise?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

new hair colour and cut

Last night I went for a much needed hair cut. I changed to a much darker brownish red. It's a huge change for me but I'm really happy with the results.

Can I also say how wonderful it is to have someone else style my hair? It came out so nicely, and it's still looking good the next morning!

I sometimes wonder how it is that I am in my thirties and still find it basically impossible to effectively style my own hair. Well, the time has come to learn. I will buy a hair dryer. Can you believe I don't currently own one? Well, maybe you can if you have seen my "natural" style lately. By which I mean, my complete lack of effort and style. I will buy a hair dryer, a round brush, and a book of "hair styling for dummies" (if it exists).

Are you having a good hair day?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

new year's resolutions

I found it a bit harder to bring myself to make resolutions this year. It seems harder than usual to do something every day. Work has been busy since the school year started and I took on an extra responsibility. But I am aware that in the past my resolutions have been very motivating and have usually helped me accomplish a lot. So it's time to just go for it, and make some decision, darn it.

1. Run in a 10 km event - I have my heart set on the 10 km component of the Great Wall Marathon. It's in May, which gives me plenty of time to actually gain enough fitness to run 10 km. In the back of my mind there is a feeling that this may or may not happen since I have had a few injury problems since starting to run. As a result I have been reading about how to avoid injury. Cross training, for instance. Any other suggestions are gratefully received! At school there is a once-a-week zumba dance exercise class starting up, and I'm looking forward to that.

2. Read through the Bible. The two other times I have done this I have found it to be so heartening. The first time I read the whole Bible in a year was in 2000, and I was amazed by how God was working in history as a whole and that it all really did point to Jesus. This year I want to make it more fresh for me and so I've decided to read in The Message version. (Read it yourself for free on Bible Gateway.)

3. Reflect on what I read. I have a little diary that I use to pray in writing and note thoughts down. (I got it from Dad's church and it's published by The Bible League of Canada.)

4. Keep in touch with family and friends more regularly. This is a recurring theme for my resolutions. This year I plan to keep track my success (hopefully) in my diary. I will try to email, call, or write to someone each day. As a side note, I realise that keeping this blog more regularly updated will probably help, too. (Thanks to Sarah for her encouragement. I am glad someone still checks it!)

So, the floor is open to you. What are your resolutions? Do you find them encouraging?