no pictures, just writing (edited)

I recently noticed that a lot of people have been asking and talking to me about my blog. Most of them have expressed interest in what I have to say. So while I was debating on what I should write about for this post, I thought maybe I should dedicate this post to why I write and how it all started. Sit back and prepare yourself for a long story.

The first thing that most people notice when they read my blog is how personal it is. Some will say that by reading my blog they can read me like an open book. Although I don’t completely agree with that statement, I do think that people learn a lot about me from reading my blog because I am open to talk about my feelings and experiences. But that was not always the case.

Before I started writing, I was a very quiet individual who rarely expressed herself. I was not very vocal and often had a lot of my emotions bottled up. Then I fell into a very dark phase of my life. A phase that would last for many years. It was then, in 2002, that I started writing poetry. It was an outlet for me to release my emotions and, with the internet era just taking off, I found myself putting more and more of my poetry and writings online. It was my first attempt in allowing people to understand what I was feeling.

I remember it was around 2004 when my friend told me how strange it was that his friends were reading my writings and finding it intriguing. It was strange because I never knew his friends, but they knew a lot about me. Perhaps, if I had felt like I was revealing too much about myself to strangers, I would have stopped writing then. But it didn’t really bother me so I continued writing. I soon found out that quite a few of my friends were regular visitors of my blog. It would come up in random conversation – they would tell me how much they enjoyed reading my blog. And all that time, I had no idea who or how many people were reading my writings because I didn’t think anyone would have cared to.

Then slowly, I started getting feedback from people I didn’t know. People from different parts of the world. There weren’t many, but the ones who did take the time to leave me their thoughtful words also gave me the motivation to continue doing what I had grown to love.

When I write, I try to use simple words. I don’t get fancy with my writing style because I want people to easily understand what I write. Most of the time, I try to write as if I was speaking. I hope that when people read my blog, they feel as if I am speaking directly to them and not as if they are reading a novel. I’m definitely no Shakespeare, and I don’t want to be. I also spend a lot of time organizing my thoughts so that people can follow what I am trying to say. Sometimes I find it difficult getting my thoughts out because it is so easy for people to misinterpret my words, but I’m learning. Hopefully, I will get better at it.

People often wonder how I can express so much of myself and talk about such personal things in my blog where it is an open environment for people to judge and criticize. I think because I grew up on stage, dancing and participating in speech arts competitions, I pretty much grew up being judged so I’m used to it. I also know that my audience only really knows me to the extent of what they see, hear or read because I only share what I allow others to know. Thus, I’m not really as much of an open book as I appear to be. Sure, I could write in a diary and keep my thoughts hidden from the rest of the world, but how would that benefit anybody? Without fears of criticism, I find it easy for me to share. I firmly believe that life is about sharing experiences with one another because it helps us grow, and I learned this from listening to other people’s life stories.

Over the years, I have moved my blogs several times; from my AsianAvenue (god, that was a long time ago) to my Xanga and Livejournal, then eventually to this blog. If one was to look back at my writings from before, one would notice that a lot of my early writings were about my unhappiness; I was always motivated to write when I was unhappy. But as I started to grow up and as my mentality changed, I began to write more about positive experiences and that, in turn, has now become my main motivation to write. In recent years, I have blogged more about my daily life than about my thoughts. I think that is a reflection of my shifting away from writings of sadness, although I do hope to write more about my positive thoughts in the future.

So why exactly do I write, you ask? My answer is simple – I hope to inspire people. Some people may read one of my posts and think, “Hey, I agree with what she says.” Some may be inspired to think differently or to try different things. Of course, some people may completely disagree with my views too. But maybe those people will be inspired to establish their own views after realizing they think differently from me. You just never know. I would be satisfied if just one person was inspired by something I’ve written.

Like artists and musicians who use their art to inspire others, I hope to inspire others through my words. Because I believe there are no boundaries for inspirations. Just closed minds that refuse to let them through.

change in a healthy direction

I have never been a total health freak. In fact, I went from barely eating in my early ages to eating tons of crap as a young adult. I admit my body has put up with a lot of my bullsh*t. But as I got older, my body became more and more reluctant to my abuse. I was getting sick very often with stomach pains and indigestion problems (stress didn’t help matters either), and these issues would occur more and more frequently. Finally, in September 2010, I decided this on and off relationship with my digestive health needed to end, and I needed to at least try to get myself healthy again.

Most changes don’t happen over night. To make big changes, you often need to make a series of small changes that, when put together, becomes a big change. I started my change in diet by adding breakfast to my daily routine. On most days, I have to wake up at 5am for work. That really doesn’t give me a lot of time to prepare a fancy breakfast. So I started with something simple: oatmeal.

To be completely honest, I have NEVER liked oatmeal; it looked bland and didn’t have much of a taste. But I chose to start eating oatmeal because I had heard so much about its benefits and it was simple enough to make. Here are just some of oatmeal’s health benefits:

1. It is a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is good for lowering LDL cholesterol because it basically soaks up and carries out the “bad” cholesterol from the body as it digests. Insoluble fiber helps prevent constipation by moving waste through the body more easily.

2. It is good for heart health.
The cholesterol lowering effect of oatmeal helps reduce risks of heart disease. Due to its high fiber content, oatmeal may help in lowering high blood pressure as well.

3. It can lower the risks of cancer.
The phytochemicals found in oatmeal have cancer fighting properties. It is particularly good for preventing colon cancer because it kind of cleans your colon by forcing food particles out of your system.

4. It is good for your memory.
Oatmeal has plenty of vitamin B that is essential for the brain and nervous system to function properly.

5. It can help you if you are trying to lose weight.
The soluble fiber in oatmeal absorbs a lot of water, which slows down the digestive process. This can keep you feeling full for a longer time so you don’t feel hungry as often.

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I highly recommend adding oatmeal to your diet (or even part of your diet). Since incorporating oatmeal into my diet, I have found that my skin has gotten softer and it has drastically improved my digestion. My oatmeal is usually mixed with water and milk so that it is more fluid-like. I find it easier to digest than when it is clumpy the way it should be. I just eat it plain with a bit of ground cinnamon, but if you want you can add fruits (i.e. blueberries) to it. If you don’t like the bland taste, you can add some brown sugar to it as well. Go ahead and get creative!

3 resolutions for the new year

How is everyone’s new year so far? As I mentioned in my previous post, this one is all about my new year’s resolutions. I like having new year’s resolutions because I think they’re helpful in getting the year started on the right foot. Some people don’t believe in making resolutions simply because they never keep them. I think it’s okay to stray from them every now and then, so long as you keep them in mind and stay motivated to work towards them.

This year, I have 3 new year’s resolutions. You’ll notice that, for once, none of them are stress-related. I’ll tell you all why that is in my next post.

1. Drink more water.
Not drinking is probably one of my worst habits. I average about 2 glasses of water a day (that includes both water and tea), and I know that’s not nearly enough to keep my body hydrated. My goal is to get into a routine of drinking 4 glasses a day by the end of April, 6 glasses by the end of August and up to 8 glasses by the end of the year.

2. Sleep by 10:30pm on week nights.
This is probably the toughest one to tackle. I’ve gotten a bit better with my sleeping in the past 3 months, but it’s definitely something that still needs some work. When I used to work at Bayview, I was sleeping about 3-4 hours every night. Ever since I started working at the downtown store, I’ve been getting 5-6 hours a night. 7 hours would be ideal and if I can keep that up, I should be able to perform at optimal level.

3. Write more / blog more.
I think this is the easiest one out of the three. I enjoy writing and have been blogging for a long time, so it really doesn’t take much to get me motivated. It’s just a matter of finding the time to do it and being able to do it consistently. I don’t want to set any rules for myself (i.e. a certain number of posts per week) because I think writing is something that happens when I get inspirations and inspirations can come at random times. Hopefully, my new voice recorder will help me keep my thoughts together and assist me in my writing this year.

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If you haven’t made your new year’s resolutions yet, it’s not too late to make them now. It’s never too late to give yourself goals. A few things to keep in mind when making your new year’s resolutions…

* Limit your number of resolutions to a few things that are achievable
* Be realistic
* Word them simply and positively
* Tell people about your resolutions; it helps make them real

a second chance at life

I was originally going to do this post on my New Year’s resolutions, but I decided to hold off on it tonight because of a strong urge to write about an inspiring story that has recently gone viral.

You might have heard about him in the past few hours. His name – Ted Williams. Just a little over 24 hours ago, he was panhandling on a roadside in Ohio. In his hand was a piece of cardboard that read: “I have a god given gift of voice. I’m an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please! Any help will be greatfully appreciated. Thank you and God bless.” Now, 24 hours later, he is the man with the most sought after voice in America.

In a nutshell, Ted Williams was a homeless man with an absolutely amazing voice. His life fell apart after he became an alcoholic and drug addict. He’d pretty much let himself go. But now that he’s been sober for the past 2 and a half years, he’s been panhandling on the side of the road, hoping that someone from a tv or radio station might hear his voice and offer him a job. Well, he finally got what he hoped for. In fact, it’s more than he could’ve ever imagined. (Read this article or watch this video to get the full story.)

I think this story is inspiring because not every alcoholic or drug addict is capable of fighting their addiction. This man, Ted Williams, pulled himself out from his mess and thus, has learned to value his life. To me, that’s worthy of a second chance. Perhaps he is getting this second chance at life because he actively pursued a change and a little bit of luck was on his side. I don’t know. But not everyone gets a chance like that. The fact that he did makes me feel extremely happy for him. I hope he will take this opportunity to appreciate everything he has now and give back by using his voice to inspire other people, especially the homeless.

This story makes me think of a Chinese saying: “天没绝人之路” (which translates to something like “The higher powers will never give you a dead end road.”) I honestly believe that no matter how hard the times may be, there is always a way out. It’s easy for people to get lost and lose sight of the path that guides them out of whatever they feel stuck on. But as long as they don’t give up, have patience, perseverance and work hard, change can and will happen.

Ted Williams just proved that to the world.

the best (and worst) of 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I don’t know about you but I am SO excited that 2011 is here! 2010 was such a crappy year for me that I couldn’t wait for it to be over. And when I say crappy, I MEAN crappy! Lest we forget those two months I spent at home in bed with a left eye that suddenly stopped moving. Becoming extremely unhappy with work forced me to make changes. Then just as I was getting all excited for my first trip to California, the plans tanked because of passport issues. It was supposed to happen later this month, and would have saw me visiting places like San Jose, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and LA. To end my year on an even crappier note, my parents were in a car accident 2 days before Christmas and our car was totaled (damn that b!tch for running a red). But I probably took the greatest hit when I lost two very important friendships that left me distraught for a while. In hindsight it did make me realize who my true friends are.

To be fair though, there were some pretty great times too. A quick look back at the highlights of 2010 for me:

Being invited to my first basketball game ever by Pacers’ head coach, Jim O’Brien, was probably a sign that I would meet a series of interesting and inspiring people in 2010.

I had only met him once when he came into my store. We’d had a great conversation about China and exchanged a few emails after that. What a pleasant surprise it was when Nicholas Cords (violist of Brooklyn Rider & member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble) emailed me a year later to invite me to a Brooklyn Rider show at the Glenn Gould studio. I was surprised that he remembered me at all and was thankful that he gave me the chance to attend my first classical music event.

After two months of being forced to stay home to deal with my eye crisis, I managed to plan and pull off an awesome baby shower for my dearest Anasha. That’s with the help of the greatest hostess on earth, Kat, of course ;)

Then on June 5th, 2010, my god daughter Kalani was born!! :D

In that same week, I also saw the birth of Mr. McGuinty’s book, Trashed.

While Toronto witnessed the smashing of store windows and the burning of cop cars during the G20, I experienced something totally different inside Fortress Toronto. In the most calm and contained environment, I saw the Presidents of China & South Korea, as well as the Prime Minister of Britain.

Despite all the riots and chaos caused by the G20, my home boy Danny and I made it out to see Far East Movement at their first show ever in Toronto. It was a HUGE day for me because I’ve been a fan of theirs for so long and had waited years for them to do a show in my city. I don’t think I’ve ever been or ever will be THAT excited about seeing a musical act again.

It was the absolute perfect night because it was just before their hit “Like a G6” blew up on the radio, so it was a small intimate show that wasn’t overcrowded with people. It felt unreal being able to stand inches away from the stage where my favourite group was bouncin’ to my favourite songs with super high energy. I had watched many Youtube videos on FM and had loved them for not only their music but also their humbleness and sincerity to give back to the community. Meeting them in person proved that they were genuinely nice people.

The single best moment of 2010 for me happened that night when I got to meet and talk to my long-time idol, Kev Nish. I have always really liked his rhymes and tone of voice in their songs, as well as his use of words and sense of humour during interviews. To be able to meet and converse with the person I admired was a total dream come true. If there was only thing I could be happy about in 2010, that would have been it.

A nice late summer dinner at Glow with the lovely Charmaine whom I hadn’t seen since she moved to Vancouver. And of course, the god brother Edison.

Victoria’s Secret opened in Toronto!!! That was HUGE to me…HUGE!! lol I heart VS :)

Leaving Chapters Bayview and transferring to John & Richmond was the biggest change for me this year (and perhaps the best decision I’d made all year). It took a lot for me to take that step to leave the place I’d been working at for the past 8 years. Not being able to see my friends everyday at work felt odd at first, but the new people I met made the transition extremely easily and I am thankful for that. Not only do I still make plans to see my old co-workers regularly, I’ve made new friends at the new store and I’m learning a lot from them.

Aside from Far East Movement, I got to see another California-reppin’ musician this year – David Choi. Seeing DC live was fulfilling. He is such a talented musician (he’s up there with Bruno Mars on my charts). Got to meet him after the show and he was very nice.

October 12th, 2010 was a big day. It was the day that Far East Movement’s debut album was released. I remember running down the street to HMV during my break at work just to get my hands on copies of Free Wired at 10am when the store opened. Knowing that the guys I’ve been listening to and have believed in over the past years is finally getting their start at where they want to go, it’s a lot like witnessing a dream come true. Their hard work and perseverance has become such a big inspiration to me.

Literally 3 days later, FM was in town opening for Mike Posner’s “Up in the Air Tour”.

Met them after the show and was surprised that Kev Nish recognized me; he remembered I had picked up 10 copies of their album, as well as my blogging about them. Unexpected and impressive!

Totally unplanned, it was definitely quite the experience meeting Russell Peters. He came to our store for a book signing and my boss managed to get me into the green room to meet the comedian. His last words to me? Stay Brown. LOL

Just 3 years late but I made sure to go see Wicked the Musical when it came back to Toronto (I didn’t get to see it on Broadway 3 years ago due to the screen writers’ strike).

Now that I’m done recapping 2010, I can get my new year started! :)

>> Next post: My New Year’s Resolutions for 2011