Thursday, March 18, 2010

my happy place

This was my breakfast today.

Yoghurt, two plums, a banana, and a cup of coffee.

I think when I eat a healthy meal first thing in the day, I'm more inclined to eat healthily for the rest of the day, and less likely to reach for a carb-filled snack in the middle of the day.

I have been religiously going to the gym for the past 6 months or so, working out for at least one and a half hour every day. I think my strength has improved, I am able to exercise longer, and I'm finally able to do the 'male' version of push-ups! (ie. the kind where you push-up with feet on the ground instead of knees.) I love the energy and 'high' workouts give me, I feel like I'm slimmer and happier after a session at the gym. Ridiculous? Not for me. =)

I have been recently discovering and applying the concept of minimalism. Many blogs and articles have been written on this, so I shall not try to explain in my beginner's way. But I can tell you this: Minimalism is about buying, keeping and doing only what you love, and eliminating all the superfluous stuff. To me, the ultimate minimalist would be able to fit in all her belongings in a backpack and go trekking in the Himalayas if she wanted to. Of course I'm nowhere near that yet and I have no plans to become as minimalist as that, but I'm learning.

I feel healthy. And so, I feel happy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

so said the wise people...

I like this. Hope you do too.

About a century or two ago, the Pope decided that all the Jews had to leave Rome. Naturally there was a big uproar from the Jewish community.

So the Pope made a deal. He would have a religious debate with a member of the Jewish community. If the Jew won, the Jews could stay. If the Pope won, the Jews would leave.

The Jews realized that they had no choice. They looked around for a champion who could defend their faith, but no one wanted to volunteer.

No one wanted to be the one to risk losing a debate with the pope. Finally an old man named Moishe said that he would do it, since if no one did, the Jews would be forced to leave. He asked only that neither side be allowed to talk during the debate. The Pope finally agreed.

The day of the great debate came. Moishe and the Pope sat opposite each other for a full minute before the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers. Moishe looked back at him and raised one finger.

The Pope waved his fingers in a circle around his head. Moishe pointed to the ground where he sat.

The Pope pulled out a wafer and a glass of wine. Moishe pulled out an apple.

The Pope stood up and said, "I give up. This man is too good. The Jews can stay."

An hour later, the cardinals were all around the Pope asking him what happened. The Pope said: "First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity. He responded by holding up one finger to remind me that there was still one God common to both our religions.

"Then I waved my finger around me to show him that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground, showing that God was also right here with us.

"I pulled out the wine and the wafer to show that God absolves us from our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of original sin. He had an answer for everything. What could I do?"

Meanwhile, the Jewish community had crowded around Moishe, amazed that this old, almost feeble-minded man had done what all their scholars had insisted was impossible! "What happened?" they asked.

"Well," said Moishe, "First he said to me that the Jews had three days to get out of here. I told him that not one of us was leaving.

"Then he told me that this whole city would be cleared of Jews. I let him know that we were staying right here."

"And then?" asked a woman. "I don't know," said Moishe. "He took out his lunch and I took out mine."

As found on this website.

Friday, March 5, 2010

where do you belong?

We had our first chinese new year celebration away from home this year.

It felt different, somehow. Although we did have a proper reunion dinner (though not on the 'proper' day - we had exams on 初二 - so our dinner was postponed to a few days after the actual day). We had all the food that we were supposed to eat during a 'proper' reunion dinner, even the lou sang, and it was a great celebration with friends, awesome festive mood, and good food.

But it felt different, without family.

Although I have always (and I really mean always) find CNY a huge hassle to prepare for and celebrate back at home, and I detest the socialising we're supposed to do during the first few days of CNY with relatives and friends. I mean, I meet these people once a year (twice, if I'm lucky) and we practically know nothing about each other. Heck, I'm closer to my online penpals (not that I have any now) than I am to them. I have always thought CNY forced us to be with people we don't like and do things we don't like because the situation warrants it. I'm always happiest on the day school reopens after the whole fiasco. Seriously!

Well, I certainly don't miss that part of CNY now I'm in the UK. But I do miss spending time with my parents, decorating the house with new year paraphernalia, baking biscuits and cakes for the new year, and even watching corny new year television shows with them. I miss the joy and smiles that comes easily and watching my dad doubling over with laughter when someone cracks a really funny joke.

That made me think: What exactly is home, anyway?

Would Glasgow seem less foreign if my parents were here with me?

Would Malaysia seem less familiar if my parents were away from the country?

What is home, anyway?

I have spent three seasons away from my homeland until now, and I understand how it feels to be a foreigner, stepping on foreign soil and being with people that see you as a foreigner. I know that, no matter how much I like it here, this is not my home.

But then again, I wondered to myself: would Glasgow seem any more like home if I spent ten years and settled down with a family in this piece of 'foreign' soil?

I don't know.

Some people spend a month away from their homeland and feel perfectly at home, wherever they are.
Some people spend a lifetime in a land away from their homeland and never feel as if they belong.

Feeling as though we belong - does it make us happier?

I think it makes us feel more secure, more grounded, to be in a place where the people see you as one of their own. Where people will not treat you differently just because you came from a different place as them.

Nine months down the road, it's sometimes easy for me to forget I'm not a local. When I'm walking down a street, when I'm browsing in stores, or when I'm simply having a coffee in a roadside cafe, I look at the faces of the people around me and never feel like I'm any different.

But there are times when a look, a twitch of the eye, or an unconscious expression, from the people to me, suddenly reminds me that although I may not feel like a foreigner, they certainly, somewhere deep inside (or sometimes it's on the surface), see me as a foreigner.

What about those who travel for a living? What about those who circle around the world and never stay in the same place for more than a week? Where is their 'home', then?

Perhaps, home is their hotel for the day, where they can put down their bags and rest, and be protected from the outer environment.

Perhaps, home is a certain cafe with similar outlets all around the world, so when they step foot inside the cafe wherever they are, they feel they're home.

Perhaps, home is where their loved ones are, who greet them with smiles and a simple 'How was your day?', and let them be themselves without being judged, and feel as though they're finally 'home'.

Where do you belong?

Where is your home? =)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

that's what the internet is scare myself!


So a couple of weeks ago I've been starting to have pains in my lower left calf during my regular Body Attack classes. It usually starts at the part of the seriously intense high-leg jumping and shuffles. What happens is after the high-impact part my calf starts to hurt at the lower back part, and gets progressively worse as the class goes on. It hurts the most when I land on the ground after I jump. When I'm not exercising I feel fine. Even when I'm at the gym either on running on the treadmill or on the elliptical it's quite okay.

And today after my class it was acting up just a little bit more than usual, and that got me a little worried.

It doesn't feel like muscle pain to me since I've had lots of that in the past and I know how it feels like! Normally if I get muscle pain post-exercise it definitely happens in both legs. And 'normal' muscle pain goes away after a few sessions - the muscles are trained to get stronger and the pain gets lesser. But this? It's there with me at every body attack class. It doesn't seem to be getting worse, just that it always acts up after every class and it's SO bothersome!

I didn't feel it was serious enough to warrant a visit to the local GP; I would feel foolish sitting in the GP's room describing my symptoms. Silly it may be, but I felt the GP would be laughing at me and send me home with some NSAIDs. Or would he?

So I did what every self-respecting future medical professional would: go on the internet and search for possible diagnosis.

And scared the shit out of myself.

I typed 'calf hurts after high impact exercise' and guess what turned up the most?

Something called 'shin splints'!

Apparently it's very common in runners and people who take part in high-impact exercises. The condition is due to microfractures of the shin bone (tibia) and it happens when people don't warm up properly before exercising (that's me!). It happens especially when runners run on incline surfaces or hard ones (again, that's me - for the incline part). It will heal on its own, but it's quite difficult and needs lots of rest (definitely not for me!).

So now that I'm properly scared, the next step would be to google 'how to diagnose shin splints'.

Well, this website gave this answer, which I'm going to quote directly:

Press your fingertips along your shin, and if you can find a definite spot of sharp pain, it's a sign of a stress fracture; the pain of shin splints is more generalized. "Usually stress fractures feel better in the morning because you've rested the bone all night," says Letha Griffin, M.D., an Atlanta orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine. "Shin splints are worse in the morning because the soft tissue tightens overnight--you get out of bed, and you can hardly walk."

"Shin splints will be most painful if you forcibly try to lift your foot up at the ankle," says Sheldon Laps, D.P.M., a podiatrist in the Washington, D.C., area. "If you flex your foot and it hurts, it's probably shin splints." Also, a horizontal rather than vertical line of tenderness across the bone is typical of a stress fracture, says Pribut.

Well, well!
So far so good.
My left foot doesn't hurt when I flex it, and I've never had problems walking after I wake up in the morning.
And all other website stated that inflammation will occur when people get shin splints, and my left calf doesn't seem to be swelling.
(Or even if it is, I wouldn't be able to see it properly since my calves are so huge...hahaha)

So final diagnosis?
Not a shin splint.

There's another condition called the compartment syndrome, but my symptoms don't fit the diagnosis.

So what is it?.....

I really don't know.

I'm hoping that it isn't something more sinister.
It's during times like this that I hope I'd taken up medicine instead of pharmacy, so I can simply diagnose myself. So convenient!

Friends, any answers?