At 42: It's The Little Things That Matter

Thursday, 12 July 2018

A few weeks ago, I almost had an emotional breakdown. I was perhaps having birthday blues or I was just genuinely feeling down. I felt like nothing was going right in my life, although I knew that wasn't true. I tried very hard to be positive. To see the good in the bad. To be my old optimistic self. But I was struggling. At one point, I thought I was losing life's battles. For once in my life, after all that I have been through, everything seemed too much to bear. 

I had to desperately do something to combat those negative feelings because I knew I could do better. It took me a few days to finally realise what was missing and what was causing me to feel so weak emotionally. Then it dawned on me that it was indeed my lack of appreciation for the little things in life that precipitated all the negativity. I am a human being after all, because I almost gave in to life's pressures and the nearly impossible standards that the current world we live in has set for all of us to achieve- either willingly or forcibly. 

And whilst I can't deny that I often feel insecure because at 42, I am still not married, remain childless and not yet a home-owner, I take refuge in the fact that I am gifted with the three important attributes that I believe most people don't have: resilience, patience and wisdom.

Therefore, as I face another year of a blessed life, I made a promise to be more thankful, first and foremost, for the little things because they really are what matter the most.

1. The opportunity to spend everyday with someone who is a constant reminder that I have everything that I need in this life. 

2.  The couple of good friends in London who are always genuinely happy to spend time with me.

3.  A friend who calls me randomly only to remind me how remarkable I am as a person and how she admires my positivity, patience and strength. 

4.  A distant niece who never fails to checks up on me and whom I can share anything under the sun with.  

5.  My sister from another mother whom I may not get to talk to frequently, but has always been a constant in my life.

6. That one person at work I can share my frustrations with without being judged.

7. Those random motivational speeches I deliver in the middle of the nurses' station at random times that bring laughter to my staff and make some of them say, "amen".

8. That reassurance from my boss that I don't need to worry because I am doing great. 

9. That genuine appreciation from my deputy.

10. Being nominated "Team Player of the Month" twice in a row.

11. That I am able to walk to and from work, avoiding the very stressful "tube life".

12.  Having my own office despite being smaller than our bathroom.

13. Having a rented flat next to Chinatown.

14. Free coffee from our local cafe almost every weekend.

15. Having a good route for my morning runs.

16. The convenience of having weights, kettle bells and a barbell at home.

17. Eating good food.

18. Our bath being mould-free.

19. Cooking in my favourite pan from my dream cookware manufacturer.

20. Making fresh orange juice from my dream juicer.

And then there are the little big things of course:

1. J for being the person that he is.

2. My family- because despite being broken by the recent trial we had to go through, I believe we remain united.

3. My job- no matter how challenging it is to deal with some of the people I work with.

3. J's family for being so kind to me.

I know sometimes when we are faced with adversity, it often seems difficult to find anything that can help us overcome it. What I learned from writing this blog entry is that, actually, it is possible to draw strength from the mundane things we do and see everyday and there are a lot of them. In fact, I could have written more. All we need to do is to learn how to appreciate the little things around us- because no matter how small these things are right now, one day something will happen that will remind us that in fact, they were the big things.


A Relaxing Four Days In The Lake District

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Since my first ever trip to the Lake District last year, I've been looking forward to going back. Lake District is now officially my favourite vacation place in the UK because this World Heritage site's picturesque landscapes remind me of one of my favourite countries- New Zealand. I am blessed that J's family go there every year and therefore, I get to tag along and experience this magnificent place.

We were blessed with a good weather this year, unlike last year when it rained almost the whole time that we were there. Good weather only meant more time spent outside exploring the  stunning sceneries of the Lake District.

Our first adventure was to the top of the Stickle Tarn in Langdale. I wanted to go up there mainly to pay tribute to my favourite chef, who sadly passed away at the London marathon in April. With the support of J and his parents, I was able to fulfil this.

The trail to Stickle Tarn started easy but became challenging very quickly. The more or less than hour hike from the Stickle Ghyll carpark was consistently uphill and very rocky. However, as the trail became steeper, the view became more and more dramatic.

As we ascend to the top of the mountain, I wondered if there was really a tarn somewhere out there. It seemed like we were just constantly climbing higher and higher with no signs of water.

When we reached the final rise, I finally saw the beautiful Stickle Tarn. The challenging climb was definitely worth it. I loved the serenity of this place. We stayed there for a good half an hour and had our little picnic. I took pleasure in the simple but delicious sandwiches that J's mum prepared for us, the tranquility of the lake and the good conversation I shared with J and his parents. Ah, simple pleasures.

On our way down, we took a different path. This time, an easier trail. No more rocky outcrops. J and his Dad led the way because they know the place very well. It was actually fascinating listening to them reminisce their past climbing experiences, naming all the mountains before us. J and his family have been going to the Lakes for over 10 years now and have climbed most of the mountains here. I's very impressive actually.

We stopped a few times to rest and enjoy the views, and then we headed back to the car park and drove back to the vacation house. 

The day after our Stickle Tarn adventure, J's parents took us to Keswick for a boat ride around Derwent Water. The breathtaking views of this place are comparable to that of New Zealand. It is definitely worth a visit. Even the dozens and dozens of ducks that greeted us seem to love this place.

We got off the boat in Hawes End for a picnic. After which, the kids enjoyed playing in the water.

After our enjoyable boat ride, we headed to Castlerigg Stone Circle, where I enjoyed the 360 degrees of purely astonishing views. The stones are between 3000 and 4000 years old. Unlike Stonehenge, you can freely touch and sit on the stones here. Adults and children alike were even climbing up the bigger stones.

On our last full day at the Lakes, we just wanted to do a short walk. J's sister was going home that day so we decided to just visit the nearby Elterwater, where J and his family enjoyed stone skipping. It was a good place to just relax and enjoy the impressively clear water.

Before we left Lake District, we went for another short walk with J's parents and his little niece. We also visited the Holy Trinity Church on top of the hill. 

And just like that. Our short vacation at the Lakes was over.

Just like last year, this holiday was very laid-back. It gave me the opportunity to temporarily switch off from the craziness of my real world. I really can't wait to go back again next year.


Vitality London 10,000: Today Is The Day

Monday, 11 June 2018

The 28th of May was the day I decided to finally join an official race again after my challenging Winter Run in February 2015. I was basically inspired when I joined hundreds of runners in London to #FinishForMatt in April. That experience was strangely uplifting because I found myself amidst passionate runners who came together that day to pay tribute to a man most of us never knew. It was then I realised that I could actually join a race on my own and that it will be okay. So without any second thoughts, I registered for the Vitality 10,000 a few days later.

I chose the Vitality 10,000 to be my first official race in 2018 because I am a Vitality member and the event was where I normally run so it was convenient for me.

I left our flat 30 minutes before the start time thinking that it was only about 10 minutes walk, only to be told that my normal route was closed and that I had to walk all the way to Green Park via Piccadilly Road. With a hint of panic, I ran to the venue so I could make it on time (although I really hate warming up before a race). I got there just as runners were making way to their respective start zones.

We set off just after 1030 am. I was feeling excited as this was another thing that I've never done before (to join a race alone). I decided to listen to Keith's playlist as I have not listened to it in a while. I started strong I thought, but I felt a bit weird just after 1km. I was breathing heavily and felt that I was pushing myself too hard, and I just started. I know it is now a cliche for you, but Lighters came on and I was reminded of the boy who inspired me to run in the first place. So, I took one deep breath and reminded myself that I could do it. I felt better after a few minutes of much needed self-reassurance. Then I saw a kid reaching out for a high-five so I gave him one. And then the bands came on and that was it. I was definitely back on track. 

I did few more high fives with children throughout the race, and some of the bands almost got me into dancing because of their lively music. There were loads of people cheering- one thing that I love about London races. The London crowd is the best for me, although I've only done four other races outside LondonParis to Versailles, The HagueCardiff and Bristol).

5km seemed too far that day for some reason, but I was running at a steady pace. I later found out that I reached km 5 just under 30 minutes, so it was good. I felt even more energised when I heard some classical music from the West End Musical Choir. It was beautiful. Some parts of the City were quiet though. Luckily, I could hear some music from a distance, so that kept me entertained whilst I tried to convince myself to run a bit faster so I could finish in under an hour. Once I hit the 7km mark and heard loud cheers, I was more motivated to reach for my goal. And with Beyonce's "Crazy In Love" in the background, I was really up for it.

I didn't pay much attention to the landmarks to be honest. I was more interested in reading placards. Some people make up really funny "words of motivation" like "you look sexy when you sweat". Running becomes easier for me when I see things that make me giggle. :)

I was distracted for a while, so when I realised I have reached Trafalgar Square, I knew I was nearly home. With only so little energy left because of the hot weather, I smiled at every spectator who cheered me on and said thank you to them. The last 500m has always been the toughest for me mentally. It's just basically the thought of getting too close to the finish line, and yet it feels so far. But as always, the cheers became louder as I approached the finish line, which gave me the last push to hopefully finish on time. 

And I did. I finished in 59 minutes 6 seconds!

It really felt so good to be back on the race. Overall, it was a good. The route wasn't too bad. It was flat and we passed by some of London's landmarks such as the Nelson's Column, St Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and the Westminster Abbey. There were water stations at 3km and at 6km. There were also some toilets available. I really liked that the staff actually "awarded" the medals instead of just handing it to the runners. That was really nice. The goodies were okay, too (race t-shirt, bottled water and some protein bar). So yes, I enjoyed my first solo run. :)

I was happy to receive a new medal because somehow I have lost my previous medals. It's a shame really because I worked hard for those medals but never mind. It is never too late to start over again.

I was also happy to get a glimpse of Sir Mo Farah during the event. I am glad he won the race.  Also, I learned a few things during the event which inspired me to do more races, and do more in life as a whole.

And here's some motivation for you and me...


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