Digitalized yet Feel

Christmas came and vanished in a blink of an eye.  In a couple of days it will no longer be 2011 and I am going to have to rewire my brain to write my dates with 2012 (or in the Buddhist calendar 2555).  So much has happened yet there are still so many things waiting to happen.  Who knows what the future holds? Will the year 2012 be the end of the world or will it bring with it renewed hope? I suppose we will just have to live through it to find out.   I pray though that whatever happens, it brings happiness and that at the end of it all, we can look back and appreciate the year we had.

The last few days I have finally gotten into the digital book age with the initiation of my first reading of a novel on tablet.  I never thought I would. (Thank you Alex for downloading roughly 10GB worth of novels onto my tablet!)  I had always been somewhat old fashioned in my preference for paper and having documents printed out.  I like the smell and feel of paper. I love feeling the texture of paper and ink between my fingers.   I spend hours on end lost between stacks of books in the library or at the bookstore.  I derive pleasure from observing the beauty of book covers or looking at the printed typeface on paper.  There’s something about the ink and the smell of printed books that is somewhat mesmerizing.

I grew up in an age where we wrote essays and papers by hand. First draft, second draft and final drafts were all done with ink and paper. Computers came later.  Now those days are gone and we are gradually moving into an age where printed books will be less in demand.  I am finally starting to understand why.

I wanted to buy Murakami’s newest novel, IQ84, but seeing it’s sheer size and thoughts about the lack of shelf space and the other large books I have in line waiting to be read pushed that thought aside.  Undeterred, Alex got me a digital version and I am finding opportunities to read like never before.  Waiting to see a doctor, waiting to get medicine for my sniffling cold, lazing in bed and whatever free time I have, I can now read books rather than just play around on Facebook.

All this techonology is fun. It is good, but let it not consume us.  Technology lets us enjoy and use our spare time.  However, we must also remember to raise our heads up from the iPhones, iPads, tablets, kindles and all these gadgets every now and then and smell the sweet scent of the flowers in bloom, feel the breeze in the air and listen to the person besides us.  Enjoy the cool air that is breezing through Bangkok 🙂 or if you are somewhere with snow, make a Snow Angel.  🙂

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A Christmas Carol Blessing

It’s ten days until Christmas and I’m counting down even though I’m a buddhist.  I like the Christmas season because it brings with it joy, happiness and brings out all the good things in people.  It makes us think of others and not only of ourselves.  I suppose I also like it because I grew up in Europe where we had Christmas trees decorated along entire roads, Father Christmas roaming around giving out presents and of course we had the Christmas market at the Old town square.  Christmas songs played everywhere and television showed Christmas movies.  A favorite of mine is always “A Christmas Carol” for I think the lessons it teaches us are ones to remind us of what we have.  Thank you Charles Dickens.

The story teaches us to not only think of ourselves but to also think of others.

At the beginning, Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old man who disregards Christmas and is so stingy he lives in a cold room with but a few coals on the fire.  Although previously engaged,  Belle had left Scrooge because his love for money rendered him unable to love another.  He had since continued on through life alone, miserly and an unhappy old man.  He gets a shock when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be reveals to him his lonely and uneventful death.  People are happy rather than sad at the lost of this creditor who cared not for anyone else.   Scrooge learns his lesson well and redeems himself with the Christmas spirit.  He gives to the poor and celebrates Christmas with all his heart for the rest of his years.

Christmas is a time for celebration. It’s also a time for self reflection. No one is perfect, but if one tries to be a better a person, more giving, more loving and to think more of others than of oneself, then I think that in itself is already an accomplishment.   So this Christmas, lets look to those around us and have a little Christmas Spirit!

Share the Christmas joy and spread the happiness far and wide!  Merry Christmas!

A little corner of happiness

Sometimes, happiness can be found in the littlest places. You do not need much space to be happy as a friend of my discovered this past two months during the recent flooding in Bangkok. Happiness is something that for different people comes from a number of reasons. Even though this flooding was disastrous it actually brought a little happiness to some people.

Now, let me give you some background. My friend is usually is a lady who is extremely house-proud and will spend most of her waking energy looking after the house, cleaning and putting things in order. Yes, everything is top notch shining, bright and everything is set in its proper place. Not an inch too far to the right or to the left. She enjoys it and enjoys having a house that is always beautiful to look at. No trash left lying around. No shoes or books left where they shouldn’t be.

Then the flood came. Everything had to be moved to the second floor. Everything that was movable that is.

Everything was stacked on top of each other (in an orderly way of course) and the second floor ended up looking like it was a furniture warehouse. There was hardly any space to walk around nor move. Only the sofa provided some seating. The ground floor, on the other hand, looked like it was a newly constructed house with nothing but a few plastic chairs and a table left below. Even the curtains were removed.

Yet up there on the second floor, my friend found a little corner of happiness. Sitting on her sofa amidst the towering stacks of furniture and decorations, my friend sat there smiling. Smiling because she was happy. Smiling because the whole family was home and smiling because she did not have to spend the day doing any house work. No putting things in order, no rearranging the furniture or the decorations, and no grocery shopping. (Being without car and supermarkets were mostly out of stock.)

It was indeed a happy time for my house-proud friend.

She got to rest and relax. In a tiny little corner of the furniture warehouse, she sat there resting, reading, watching television and feeling not in the least guilty that she had to be responsible for looking after the house. Having no obligations, she was happy. Now that all is over, my friend is back to being the person she was before the flood, running around and getting exhausted.

Happiness can indeed be found in the strangest places. Where are you happy ? Do you know what makes you happy? If you do, why don’t you recreate the happiness more often? Happy Holidays! 🙂

Christmas Weight Tip: Ramp up your running

Since the flood prevented me from exercising regularly and now that it has gone, I find myself in the festive season with my weight going uphill.  I gained 3kgs last week (now 2kg down and 1kg left to go) which is the most I’ve ever gained in the last year or so.  It’s during festive times like these when our weight go up and up. (I mean it’s a time for meeting friends, hanging out and having fun.  What this means is a lot of eating, drinking and late nights.  A routine that is wonderfully suited to gaining weight. )  Fear not, with some exercising planning, you can keep your weight in control and get it back down before you find yourself unable to fit into the pretty dress you had ready for New Year’s Eve.

Of course, in between meals do not forget to also watch what you eat.  The more you eat the harder you have to work at burning it out.  Since I gained 3kgs, I had to find a way to get it down and fast it must before it reaches a new steady state.  When the weight is in a steady state (meaning at a level for a longer period of time), it becomes harder to burn it off (for me anyways).

What to do?  Add an extra day or two to your weekly exercise routine.  For example, if I used to run two times a week, I now run three.  If I feel like I’ve been eating like there were no tomorrow, then I will run four times a week.  The more I eat, the more I run.

If you can do it, running two days in a row will also just push that metabolism up and burn burn the fat away.

Don’t forget to give yourself an hour rest after the running before your next meal.  This lets your body burn fat for an extra hour after you run.

So yes, beat the Christmas weight gain and go run!  If you want to eat, then you gotta run! Good food makes running worthwhile. 🙂

A Heart of Gold: HBD dearest AA!

Good friends are rare. Good friends who remain good friends decades later are even rarer.  Tonight I dedicate to my post to a friend whose birthday was a little over a week ago (AA) . It’s a birthday I never forget and remember it every year for it falls close to Thanksgiving.  It’s good for it also reminds us to be thankful of our dearest friends.  Every year we have a “celebration” that has become tradition for our cosy group of three close friends.

Yes, I remember meeting her first year of college.  It came out in one way or another with us helping each other out, going for our first dim sum together, spending time together and yes we ‘clicked’ right away.  You know when you get along with someone, like you know when you don’t get along with someone.  We talked about everything. We talked about life, thoughts and everything that could be talked about.

What I remember most is how she is always so happy, genuine, and so determined in everything she does.  She knows exactly what she wants.  It’s a great character to have and one that to this days grows stronger and more beautiful like a tree in blossom.  The good thing about her is that she is always just herself, not boastful and down to earth even though she is a busy business woman with a growing company. I love that.

Looking back, memories of college days still remain clearly in my mind. I remember late night karaokes, make up sessions, weekends exploring the culinary side of philly, day trips to New York, homemade carbonara spaghettis and summers back home in Bangkok.   The list is endless…we had a good four years together and almost twelve years after our graduation we are still the same (though older and hopefully wiser)

I also remember getting on the path to health with my dear friend. She convinced me to sign up for my first ever Yoga class at college when it was just a “new” kind of exercise and not many had heart of it.  She convinced me to sign up for the “gym” and together we’d go for late night workouts.  9pm onwards were when we worked out.  What a wonderful influence.  It was the first time I actually thought about exercise and it made a world of a difference.  Thank you dear friend. 🙂  Today you are still the fitness guru and have continued practicing Yoga through all these years until you are finally a qualified instructor yourself.

I could go on and on for we have so much history, but for now all I want to say is “Thank you” dear friend for being such a great friend through all these years.  You were seriously my first “Thai” friend and one whose heart is genuinely genuine.  I never see you think any ill of anyone and you always make time for your friends.  Happy Birthday!  Wishing you all the happiness in this world dearest!

Myth 10: Do not eat after dinner time

I love this myth. This is a myth that says one should not eat after a certain time if one wants to lose weight because food eaten later will turn into fat.  I think at a certain time during my chubby days I too tried this and guess what? I stayed chubby.  I still ate a lot and did not exercise and so yes, I remained chubby no matter what time I ate.

Now the myth works for some people, because they end up eating less.  They tell themselves not to eat after a certain hour, and so mindless snacking is avoided.    Especially if you lived in an apartment like I did, the fridge was just convenient and easy access.  Watching TV, I could see the fridge and when you have nowhere to walk, (because the space is small)  you walk to the fridge.  You open the fridge and peek inside. A snack, a piece of cake, a chocolate catches your eyes and before you know it, it’s in your stomach!

Some say, however, that eating late results in more fat because your metabolism slows down at night and burn less fat.  You therefore end up storing more fat.  While your metabolism does indeed slow down when you are sleeping, it continues to burn and churn food in your stomach.  It might take longer, but it is still burning.    It therefore doesn’t really matter what time you eat. What matters is HOW MUCH you eat.

Now if you end up having a huge dinner, do not skip your next meal in an attempt to lose weight. Skipping a meal will make you go into “starvation mode” and your body will tell you to eat more at the next meal.  What happens is you end up eating more than you otherwise would have.  Even if you’ve had a big meal, have a lighter next meal, but do continue to eat.  Keep your blood sugar balanced!

So this Christmas season, don’t eat too much, don’t starve yourself and do allow yourself to eat late for parties galore! The only thing you have to becareful of is HOW MUCH you eat and how much you exercise off!  Happy Holidays!

Myth 9: Aluminum Foil is linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

Okay, I still have two myths remaining about food.  This ninth myth is one that apparently some people still believe in even though it has been proven to not be true.   It started, according to the article, in the 1960’s and1970’s when research showed elevated levels of aluminum in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.  This scared many from using aluminum pots, pans and foil to store food.

If you are thinking to yourself, like I am now, ” Oh no, I use those products all the time to store my food!,” I have good news for you.  Subsequent research has failed to find a substantive link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s Disease.   Experts say that aluminum absorbed by the body is processed by the kidneys and urinated out.  So fear not! Aluminum will not sicken you.

No one yet knows the real cause of Alzheimer’s disease so I think it’s best not to get worried by ‘myths’ or other mistaken beliefs.  I think if you spend your life worrying about what will cause you to get ill, your life will past you by.  So listen to each myth with an open mind and do not let it scare you into throwing everything aluminum away!  Be happy now you can still use that foil to wrap your food 🙂