Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Inversion

My yoga teacher insists that inversion poses have youth-preserving and brain-enhancing powers. I can't say for sure, but logic dictates that they are very unlikely. If blood rushing to my head really does improve my cognitive abilities, I would have gained several IQ points by now, having been inverting myself into wall-supported handstands nearly every single night.

I don't remember the exact number of years I've been doing yoga - granted, never intensely - but it must be at least 6 or 7. I remember I never managed to go into a headstand away from the assuring protection of a wall for the first 4 years or so. Yoga was not a series of challenging poses to master; it was my weekly physical activity, amounting (almost) to exercise that I fondly hoped would help keep my weight in check (yikes!). I was too comfortable and complacent in the class that was just me and my friend, and never had the motivation to take that leap. It came in form of a reprimand-like observation by a rock-climbing yogi who I met when I first took up climbing. Long story short, he was rather aghast that after 4 years of yoga, I hadn't learned how to do the handstand.

It took a while, a lot of courage and several falls to stand on my head (and elbows) in the middle of the room. The tripod quickly followed. I found that once I figured the key to stabilizing my body while being upside down, everything just works.

Handstands, however, are still a long way off. While I've been able to hold myself in position against the wall for a some time (years, in fact), I haven't been able to grasp the mental and physical key configurations to break away. That is why I hop up against the wall every night. If anything would work, it would be ceaseless, relentless determination.

Yoga is no longer just another physical activity amounting to exercise. It is so much more to me now, although I'm not (yet) at the level where I take an interest in the philosophical and spiritual aspects. Conquering the handstand is my current goal. Next, perhaps the Scorpion.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kota Kinabalu


I returned from the capital of Sabah, Land Beneath the Wind, two weeks ago. It's taken me long enough to write a few words. A few. There should be more to come, I hope.

While it is, one one hand, disadvantageous to travel alone - safety concerns and no one to share yummy seafood dinners / taxi fares / hearty laughter / silly vacation photography with - it is, on the other hand, very liberating. I wasn't obliged to plan perfectly my limited days there, or ensure I see all the must-sees, do all the must-dos and eat all the must-eats, or compromise on anything at all.

Oh, it was great. Any vacation, after years being without, is definitely great.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Impermanence


I took up belly dancing about three years ago. It wasn't something I sought specifically... rather, there was a class on Saturday afternoons in my gym, and I thought - why not? It looked interesting and potentially effective in ridding me of a flabby belly, and the instructor was (still is) great-looking. 

Dancing was never my thing - not when I was young, nor in my teens not even the twenties. Once, in university, the singing group my roomee, Mee Mee, and I were in were set to perform two songs for a charity event. In the (relatively) last minute, they decided to throw in a dance as well. After the first rehearsal (in which we learned the steps for the first time), Mee Mee and I "showcased" our moves to Bee Ree in our hostel room. Bee Ree rolled onto her bed and laughed like a hyena - that's how much we can't dance. This belly dance class, however, was different. It wasn't only that I could do it, but I didn't make people fall over laughing doing it.

It was really great to find something I enjoy doing and have it do wonder to my fitness at the same time. And then... the moment I realized how great the once-a-week belly dancing classes were, I started worrying about the day when I don't have them anymore. My instructor was no longer a young man - one day, he would decide he has had enough and would retire. What will happen to my abs then? What will I do to maintain my fitness? How will I fill the gap that was a full hour of cardio and body-toning workout every Saturday?

Well, that day has come. The classes ceased two months ago. 

What do I feel, you ask? Frankly, nothing. The reason is that I had actually stopped going for classes about 6 or 8 months ago. It started with an unexplained pain in one knee, and then a pain in the other knee. I simply couldn't dance anymore. I had, without consciously realizing it, long replaced belly dancing with Swiss ball exercises for core training. Do I miss dancing? Yes, but not for the reasons I initially thought I would.

This, Reader, is what I always do. I over-think everything and I worry about future changes that might happen before they even happen, if they do at all. I worry about how the changes might affect me negatively and I am always in fear of losing something good that is currently a part of my life. I know the saying that nothing is permanent, that change is the only constant... but, knowing (and even accepting) it is not the same as being OK with it. 

In hindsight, all that worrying was simply as waste of time. I affected a change before circumstances did. I wish I can say this would be the last time I do it, but... well, one can try. And hope.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Depression

I started this post at least two or three months ago, but never got around to finish it. Somehow, now seems an apt time.

A close friend asked if I was prescribed anti-depressants for my tummy problems last year. I wasn't. I don't think I had written about what happened with me exactly. Here it is.

I had been unhappy for what may be a prolonged period. I had been stressed out by things I did not (and perhaps, still do not) consciously acknowledge, or hadn't been aware of. I know not when these unresolved issues, piling and compounding on each other, as issues are wont to do, crossed the limit of my tolerance. They did, and consequently, the tummy problems began.

My gastroenterologist diagnosed functional dyspepsia and prescribed me anti-anxiety meds. I took them for a couple of weeks to no distinguishable relief from symptoms. He upped the dose and I still didn't get better. Finally, he ordered an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. Nothing. I continued on the anti-anxiety meds for another month or so, while making it a point to be fine with everything. I strive not to sweat the small stuff, not even the somewhat bigger ones. I made an effort to stop over-thinking too many things and learned to let go. I got better, and haven't been in serious pain for over a year now.

So, no, I told my friend. It wasn't depression, which, perhaps laughably, I experienced before too. It was the time I cried myself to sleep every night, lost the will to live, and lost enough weight to look like a ghost. Granted, I hadn't needed medical attention (or maybe I did, but... oh, well) and I dragged myself out of the crazy, all-encompassing gloom after several months. It wasn't easy, and it was scary.

It was scary because I entertained thoughts - several times - of ending it all. All I could see was circumstances hopeless and repellent - there wasn't a single thing I could imagine doing that would lead me down a path I would enjoy, or at the end of which I could see a light, or even affect in the slightest manner anyone in my life. No one cared, and I didn't care. It would be when I was performing mundane daily tasks - driving, showering - when panic would attack. I'd feel a tightness in my chest and maddening lightness in my head. I'd have to physically scream at myself, sometimes including pulling at my own hair or slapping my own cheeks, to snap out of it.

If you know me, Reader - if you are a friend, I imagine you might be rather taken aback right now. Is this true, what you are reading? Isn't she a very happy, funny, and most of all, tough, girl? How can she be this messed up inside?

The truth is, sometimes, the most messed up people put up the best facade to hide their true feelings. I am fortunate that I wasn't that ill, so that I was able to find my way out of the black holes on my own. What about those who aren't? They kill themselves.

I don't know why we should insist on saving those who want to die - in the end, we all have to die anyway. The reason I would guess, is that perhaps many just couldn't, at the worst time in their lives, see that they really want to live, and they can, if only they get past the darkness. And the darkness, eventually, definitely will pass.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Older and Wiser

Picture this: three ladies in short dresses and high heels were walking down a paved road, towards a building on the opposite block. In their path, was a drain, about a foot or so wide. They could either hop across it, or walk a further distance where a completely covered path exists.

"Should we jump?"
"We're in heels... what if we fall?"
"It looks dangerous..."

We decided to walk further, like proper ladies ought to.

"You know, if I was ten years younger, I would've just jumped!"
"Right! Or if I was wearing flats or slippers, I would've considered jumping too..."
"Agreed! Totally!"

Yup, definitely older and wiser now.

=D

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Last Concubine


It is not without reluctance that I tagged this post under my reads. I am barely halfway through it, and have completely lost the will the proceed. I might some day - some very distant day - finish reading it, but I don't want to wait that long to write about it.

I can't remember what of this book that caught my fancy. Perhaps it was the cover art (yes, I still make the mistake of judging a book by its cover, every now and then...), or the promise of the teaser-synopsis on the back. The only things I remember about it are the two or three times I started it, and then gave up before the first chapter was over. Trust me, Reader, when I say "dropping out" of a book isn't at all like me! I mean, I finished all four books in the Twilight series! Sure, I practically had to force my eyes on the pages by the time I got to the third one, but nevertheless, completed all four. That's how obstinate I can be. (Note: I will always regret having read them though...)

The Last Concubine is tiresome in its lengthy, yet uninteresting description of everything. Its pace is exceedingly slow, a painful drag. Certain parts in the story (up to less than half the book, where I'm currently paused...) are outright laughable. Should I extend my apologies to the author for what I've just written?

Sorry, Lesley Downer, I simply don't enjoy reading your book.

Reader, if you trust my opinion on reading material, don't bother getting this. If you have, by chance, already read this title and enjoyed it, I'd really like to hear from you! Leave a comment, or write me.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Two Months

It wasn't that I forgot my password or anything. I'd just been burning myself out taking on more than I ought to. It was work, and well, research obligations, and more work. And as if I hadn't stretched my limits out quite enough, I took on an extra "project", for lack of a better word, for the sake of *ahem*... glory. And, a small sum, of course.

Sometimes, I wish I were more regular. I wish I didn't think so differently, that makes the whole business of being me so... unbearable, at times. I wish I can be like all the other money-chasing fools out there. Earn big bucks, spend big bucks, *happyhappyhappy*. Imagine that in hashtag, Reader.

Most of the time, I don't know what I want. Sure, I wouldn't mind lots more money for the amount of heart and effort I put into what I do, but that's not the ultimate goal. I don't know what is. Perhaps, I'm still searching. Perhaps the reason I feel lost is... I'm actually lost. There are days I feel I'm right on track in my life, and there are those I feel I'm struggling for something I can't quite put my finger on.

Struggling. In high school, after a particularly disappointing test result announcement, my bestfriend felt especially depressed. She gazed listless out of the classroom window. It was pouring madly outside. In a broken voice, she said - Look at the bird flying in the rain. I am that bird... struggling. Of course, that, she definitely isn't now. I wish I can be sure that I'm not too.