Here’s a positive thought…catch it!

A strange kind of peace seems to have transcended since the New Years. Maybe it is because I am just getting a little older and a little calmer. Or maybe it’s because I have been enjoying the time truly having some much needed “me” time reading books and being alone with my thoughts. I think being able to just stay home with uninterrupted time for a few hours on a weekend is indeed a time to cherish and value. It allows one time to really prioritize and define what is indeed important in life.

This year I thought about why we all like Christmas and New Years so much. I always enjoyed it but never really gave much thought to why we can’t spend the rest of our year thinking it’s Christmas or New Years. Wouldn’t life be so much more pleasant?

For me, I discovered that Christmas and New Years are a good time for one to re-tune and get back in touch with those most dear to us. It’s when we often go out to eat with our friends, reunite with those we haven’t met for a long time and truly enjoy the company of others. It’s a time of positive thinking and positive energy. It’s when we have the chance to just sit back and enjoy a good conversation without feeling rushed. It’s a time of catch up and make amends. It’s a time when we get to ‘slow’ down a little.

It’s also when we gladly buy gifts for others and enjoy seeing others’ happiness upon recieving gifts. It’s when the focus shifts away from only thinking out “me” and towards “you.” It makes the mind clearer and lighter. What’s more important is that this positive energy is contagious. Positive energy given out will result in more positive energy generally, I find.

Why can’t we all be such pleasant beings the rest of the year? Let us remember this positive feeling. I want to, so am sending everyone positive thoughts tonight!! 🙂

Catch it before it falls!

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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.  🙂

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!

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. 🙂

Christmas Gift Tips

I love Christmas, I love New Years.  I love this time of year when everyone is in a festive mood and everything is just fun fun and fun.  Organizing parties, get-to-gethers, and gift raffles.  This is the time of year when everyone “gives” to everyone else.  It’s when we forget ourselves a little and think about those around us. During this time of year we celebrate family, love and friendships.   Shopping malls are packed with people and everything is packaged in gift sets.  There are always long lines of people in the days running up to Christmas and New Years as last minute shoppers come out to get that special gift. 

Here are a few gift tips on finding the perfect gift for those who need a little inspiration. 

Tip 1:  Think of the person you are going to give the gift to.  What do they like? Do you remember them eyeing something at the store?  Remember, expensive doesn’t always means its going to make that person fall in love with you.  Its the thought that counts and if you find something that really touches them, it’s perfect.  It could be things like a bag they’ve been eyeing or a yoga mat.

Tip 2:  Don’t give perishable items unless its for a dinner party.  The reciever might not have enough time to eat the food or the fridge might be full. 

Tip 3:  When giving to a lady, pay attention to the giftwrap.  She always like beautifully packaged items no matter how small they are.  For guys, I think this is not that much of a big deal.

Tip 4: Remember what you bought last year.  You don’t want to give the same gift every year!

Tip 5: No gift vouchers.  Although efficient, that just spoils the fun of getting a gift for Christmas!  Everyone has a child inside who just loves to open gifts.

Hope this short tip list helps!  Any other suggestions welcomed. 🙂 Merry Christmas everyone!  I wish you all a very happy Christmas and lots of happiness. 🙂  I’ll be writing on and off the coming week as of course it is the festive season and one just has to go out and celebrate a little.  Don’t forget to check back in later though,  I’ll be back in full steam next year 🙂

Hari Raya Mozz Cato Cookies

Mozz Cato Cookies

Happy Hari Raya Day!! 🙂 Today is a special day in the islam world and I have only recently learnt what it means.  Every year on my calendar, I would see that all the islam countries would have this day off a national holiday but I never understood its significance until my previous trip to Malaysia.  Today is the end of Ramadan and it is a big celebration.

From my understanding, it is a bit like Christmas.  Family members gather together for the Friday prayer.  There is a special prayer for the end of Ramadan and all those who attend, dress up in their best traditional clothes.  It’s a time for celebration.

Shops are filled with shoppers buying gifts and special delicacies are cooked up for the celebration.  Family members from around the country unite together.  Prisoners are released from jail as acts of good faith.  It is a day of celebration and good deeds.

On my visit there, my friend bought me these wonderfully delicious traditional cookies. The cookies were made fresh with these wonderfully buttery flour stuffed with carameled pineapple inside.   They were just lovely bite sized and melted in your mouth (not in your hands.)  The pineapple stuffing gave it a slight sweet taste, but it wasn’t too sticky or chewy. 
I’ve had some cookies before which were of the same kind with pineapple stuffing, but the flour was always too hard and the pineapple so hard that it stuck to your teeth.

Anyways, if you’re looking for something to bring home, I recommend these cookies from Mozz Cato.  They are available at Parsons department store.  They also have other kinds of cookies and they were all equally delicious with lovely packaging.  I wish I had brought some more back home! 🙂