Saturday, October 28, 2017

Big stones in a jar

Once someone told me that "people spend so much time filling their jars with smaller pebbles, that when the larger stones come, there are no room."

My initial reaction to this was, "I don't know what this is about but there must be some profound hidden meaning to it!"

A few month later, I was notified that my graduate school application which I spent the past decade constructing was not fruitful. Disappointed, and wretched. The news came to me as if that email was sneering at me, poking the scars formed to protect my fragile insecurities, fears, and pride. I didn't know what to do for a while but to be overwhelmed with the flood of emotions. After a few hours of crying, which felt like letting go of my desire for control, I was left with emptiness.

Then miraculously, hope came. The struggles I had in the past have increased my tolerance for failure. As long as I do not give up my goals, I can always work towards it. It was then that I remembered the reference to stones in the jar. The larger stones are failures, misfortunate, sickness, and the spaces in the jar can be hope, persistence, and conquer.

The person who said this to me had once lost everything: career, friends, family, even his homeland. A person like that has every reason to be bitter about this world, however, he displayed an inner happiness and peace that I rarely see in others.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Small talk

I was never good with small talk, especially with people who are hard to talk to. With the suggestion of a friend, I started a habit of chatting with Uber drivers. The small space of a car somehow creates a friendly environment that facilitates conversations. Many people opted in as an Uber driver as a part time job. Their full time job ranges from science researchers, singers, business owners, even lawyers. They impress me with what they have to share to the conversation, once I get the conversation going, that is. 

There are a few tips I want to share about small talk, 
1. Curiosity - This should be a no-brainer. If you are not curious about the people you are talking to, it will be hard to generate an interesting conversation. Curiosity stems from the desire to know about fields you are not familiar with, or know nothing about. This can also give the person you are talking to a hint that you are interested in getting to know about them.
2. Open-mindedness - No one wants to talk to someone who is judgmental, and always there to make conclusions about themselves. Small talk happen because you don't know a lot about the other person, backgrounds, and experiences, so why should you jump to conclusions about that person. Open-mindedness involves accepting that there are other people who have different opinions and ideas about things in this world. Agree to disagree is a good place to be if you are talking to someone with different opinions as you.
3. Hobbies and interests - The good thing about hobbies or interests is that people cannot stop talking about their hobbies and interests. If you happen to share a similar hobby with someone, you share a similarity with that person. Similarity makes people more likable.
4. Be willing to end the conversation - The purpose of small talk is to casually converse to kill time, prevent awkward silences, or to cultivate a friendly, easier atmosphere. However, sometimes people might not be in the mood to talk for many reasons. If you encounter a person whose answers are short with no follow ups, who shows no interests in getting to know about you, then it would be completely fine to drop the conversation. A conversation involves the participation of both parties.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Inner Equilibrium

I believe everyone in on the face of earth is trying to find the so called peace while living in this fast paced world. I see peace as an abstract feeling of inner equilibrium. Peace is like sitting in a garden listening to sounds of flowing water with no negative emotions on your mind. But this calming and a lack of threat feeling is slowly diminishing within the fast pace society. We all want to establish a calming inner equilibrium, by working on ourselves, exposing ourselves to the optimal environments, coming up with rules in morality that we follow to avoid guilt. But is peace really reachable when the values of the society change towards the materialistic, the constant simulation of internet, and social media to escape the temporary of real life problems?

Often I find myself going through a smooth week, with accomplishments at work, finishing all errands on time, great conversations with friends, like my life is going great. The suddenly Boom! A clogged sink, and Boom! work gets out of hand, and Boom! a friend is upset for my absence of some social outing. By then the inner peace is thrown off balance, and the mental mindset is back to coping with the negative emotions while learning to appreciate life at the same time.

But what if this feeling of having small issues in my life waiting to be solved and/or tolerated is actually the inner equilibrium. What if the percentage of life is actually spent more on taking care of small raising problems than on enjoying the zero-stress occasions? One of the life goal that I learned as the life years build up, is that one develops more toleration for the miscellaneous life problems that comes and goes. Problems with water bills, banks, or taxes comes and goes, and eventually we will all see them as errands to do as oppose to life-threatening issues. Such inner equilibrium is established through years and years of toleration, instead of through the competition of all life's issues at one time.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Frugal habits vs Poor conditions

Without a doubt parents want their kids to excel, and to be good, responsible human beings. There are countless research centered around the development of kids' values, characteristics, morals, etc. Parents pour money into education and extracurriculars for their kids as if such endeavors garentee the constitution of a socially desired individuals. However, parents can attempt to develop one desireable characteristics within a child but mistakenly yielding something...not so desirable. There is a fine line between parents desire to emphasizing frugalness and ending up giving the child an impression of being poor.

Growing up, I saw many middle class families, either in the states or in other countries, highlighting the importance of saving money and spending only on what is absolutely necessary. Out of many other responsibilities a newly constituted familiy might have, mortgage, bills, car insurance costs, etc, it is easy to shut down a child's request for candies or toys. But think about the psychological effect it might have on the child. With his or her own desire inconstantly denied, but with adequate amount of love and attention, the inconstantcy of care leads the child to conclude that the family is financially limited.

Training a child to be frugal diminishes the likelihood of future financial issues. Giving the child an image of poor family background comes with some consequences. For one, being raised from a poor family leads to insecurity, a reluctance to express the inner desire due to the frequency rejections while young, and a limitation to predict actual values of materialistic things. Also, in terms of interacting with others, being raised from a poor family tend to pay more attention on the financial ability of other children's families, hence factor this into basis of friendship. Lastly, the child's desire pursue its own interests that are financially costly such as traveling would be suppressed due to the child's concern for parents' opinions. This prevents the child's creativity, and the ability to exercise confidence and assertion.

So how are you subconsciously effecting your kids?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Exercise is now a main stream

I walk down the street of Bethesda Wisconsin ave, and I see so many gyms. Equinox, Washington Sports club, Fitness first offers people comprehensive gym experience and has a large client base. Smaller more specialized fitness stores are now popping out of nowhere: Solidcore, SoulCycle, Corepower Yoga. Those specialized studios mainly attract people that are looking for the hipster pro experience. I have not tried many different fitness places. All I can say is that my experience in specialized studios were...not something that encouraged me to go back. The pro experience made me felt so much of an VIP, so exclusive that the atmosphere was almost cult like.

But why? Why are those gyms, specialized fitness studios, and active clothing stores like Lucy and Rei, on the rise? Some places like Solidcore actually charge $35 a class with their store fronts still standing. Rei, an outdoor/camping/hiking equipment store offers free flyfishing classes as a way to attract customers. Corepower yoga studios are so popular that the opening of local stores gain media attention. The answer: physical exercise is on the rise, and this trend is catching onto people at a faster pace than we have seen before. Thanks to instagram, where people post only the nicest sides of themselves, Facebook, where public relations specialist utilize for commercial benefits, trends catch on at an exponential level. On top of that, it seems like the moment people are done doing the physical talking, they go back to their phone for internet swiping. The result? Fads come and goes, faster than ever before. Due to the dominos effect with social media, when one person start to get board of something, the crew catches on. The speed of the turn over, although encourage people to be more adoptable, induces stresses for anyone that is involved.

Maybe it is time to take it slow with what everyone on social media wants, and start acquiring your own hobbies or brands.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

First time running a half marathon?

I first started running races because I have a lot of runner friends around me, I wanted to pick up new hobby, and I really wanted to make wall arts with finisher medals. So the credits of motivation would be from my friends and pinterest. Going to a first half marathon without proper training would be intimidating for new runners. On top of that, a lot of training programs come either expensive, time-consuming, or just too much information for someone who doesn't know much about running. I didn't know much about running other than it can help me loose weight, but heck, that's only half true. There are some simple important points that can help you plan out your training schedule:

Weekend long runs are my focus when I was training for my first half. I was lucky to have a 10mile race two weeks before my first half marathon, so I spent a total of two month of training for the first half marathon. This is what I did:
Weekend 1: 2 miles
Weekend 2: 5 miles
Weekend 3: 5 miles
Weekend 4: 7 miles
Weekend 5: 7miles
Weekend 6: 10miles (Race Day)
Weekend 7: 7 miles
Weekend 8: 13.1 miles (Race Day)
The longest I have ran before training was 3 miles. That was done two years ago. I remember I was dying afterwards. I wasn't even a runner of any sort before I started training. So you can do it too!

Weekday trainings are hectic especially for someone with a 9-5 job, so I ddi not train much on weekdays. But it's important to make sure to take care of your body on weekdays since those weekend long runs can make your body very, very stiff. As a result, you have to build up strength and flexibility. This is what I did:
Tuesday: Yoga (1 hour long session)
Thursday: Free weights (30min, 20lbs)
If you have absolutely no time for weekday trainings, take at least 10 minutes twice per week to build up strength in your core area.

Other things that you need to keep in mind:
- Don't injure yourself. You don't want to be the person that injured yourself and end up people watch during race day. Pay attend to how your body heals after a long run. If it takes more than a day to recover from a weekend long run, decrease your speed or mileage the next weekend.
- Stretch before and after your run. But if you are lazy and had to pick one, stretch after your run, it helps your body recover.
- If you are stock up on carbs a couple of days before the race, the race will go much easier.
- Make sure you go to the bathroom before you run. Bodily waste can drag you down.
- Make sure you dress adequately for running. If you are not sure how much layer to put on, dress less. It's less likely that you will be cold when running than burning up.
- Most importantly, try to enjoy the race. If you hate people, pick a small race. If you hate running, then run at a comfortable pace.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Recovering from a bad breakup

I swear this is going to the last time I write on this topic, because I am very tired of thinking, talking, and analyzing my own thoughts about breakups and recovery. A lot of people has been asking me how I can go from absolutely-miserable-street-cursing-mad woman to a happy confident woman in a month after my last relationship really deadly ended. The truth is that my relationship had already ended six month ago, but I was still hanging on to the hope that one day things will be back to normal. We were still "Friends". Being friends right after a break up is one of the worst thing and the least respectful thing you can do to yourself. Hanging on to hope is natural especially when you are in touch with your ex. Unless things are clearly cut, don't expect yourself to be completely free from all this torture. The following things are what I did after the last clean break which we said something along the lines of "We will never see and talk to each other ever ever ever again!" Even through I was still pretty destroyed then, but be aware that the results for you might vary since you might not have gotten used to days without your ex.

There are a few things that I did that were crucial in helping me recover: books, counselor, friends, and rebounds.

For books, I really recommend Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It helped me tremendously. If you are not a book reader, or you hate books, or you are not emo enough to pick up a totally different hobby, then just read chapter 48 and 49 of the book, and read it over and over until you actually believe it. After this book, read The book of forgiving by Desmond Tutu, and read every single word of it. When you are recovering from a breakup, you will have so much anger in you that you want to hurt somebody or yourself. This book walked me through my anger stage of emotional recovery gracefully.

Counselor is one of the things that once you tell someone that you have a counselor, they think you have some problems. Truth is, you might have some problems, but everyone has problems. Having a counselor is one of the best things you can do for yourself. A counselor helps pinpoints the problems you should or are ready to face so that you can be a better person. Counselors come at a very important times like this, because they can patiently analyze the relationships, finding faults in failed relationships that you refuse or did not notice. My counselor lend me Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, whom talks about how to focusing on the positives that are still present in yourself when an important piece of yourself just got ripped away. It helped some, but its impact was not as strong as the two books I recommended before.

Friends are really helpful when it comes to times like this too. However, there are certain friends that are capable of talking through your breakups and providing emotional comfort. Not all friends can do that, and not all friends has the patients to do that. Just because you have some friends whom are not always there for you, doesn't mean they are bad friends. It just means that they are also imperfect human beings that have different strengths and weaknesses. Make sure you don't completely reply on your friends, you also need to spend some time alone to actually process all your junk. Don't pour all your emotional tantrums onto your friends, process as much as you can on your own, then reach out to friends for help. An important part about any breakups is that its a process for you to become independent again.

For rebounds, make sure you don't go crazy, and make sure whoever you are dating knows that you have been through a hard breakup. Be yourself, and be honest. If you really like someone, go for it. If you don't like someone, don't force yourself to like that person just because you are lonely. If you decide to get into a new relationship, carefully evaluate whether your desire to get into a new relationship is due to excitement, societal pressure, loneliness, or you just like him enough to be in a relationship.