Archive for Lifestyle

  • Swimming Through Life

    Posted on 02.03.09 | 21 Comments

    Photo by: Colleen Yancy. See her flickr stream.

    I started training for swimming a month ago. For a sprint triathlon, one will have to swim 800 meters without stopping.  Alright, that’s my goal.  I’ve calculated the length of the pool I use: 25 meters. Okay, 32 laps it is!

    On my first day I started with great optimism. “Okay Tina, you can do this! 10 laps without stopping! Go!” By the end of lap 2, I was collapsed over the edge of the pool lane, huffing and puffing to catch my breath.  My performance was pathetic and it brought with it the clarity I needed to practice harder. I continued to swim laps every other day, stopping only to catch my breath when needed, until I’d finished a cumulative of 32 laps.

    Two weeks later, I overheard an older lady talking about her experience with a sprint triathlon, and I went over to ask a few questions. She said for the swimming leg, I’ll need to prepare to be able to do 40 laps, since it’ll be in a lake and the measurements are not very exact.  And also that it was important that I train myself to be able to swim all 40 laps non-stop, or risk drowning.

    Forty LAPS??? Holy Crap!

    I recall hearing a small voice in my head whispering, “I‘ll never be able to do that”, and then a few pulses later, I heard Tony Robbins’ voice yelling, “If you can’t, then you must!”

    Well, all I can say is that there’s nothing like the threat of death by drowning that motivates one to get creative.  With that in mind, that very same day I was able to swim the 40 laps without stopping.

    Four to Forty Laps in One Day

    For one thing, I noticed that I had been experiencing breathing issues when I did the freestyle stroke, which made me super tired and in need of catching my breath at the end of every two laps. So, I started to do back strokes – something I am more comfortable with.  My goal wasn’t to look like a professional freestyle swimmer, my goal was to stay afloat and swim the length of 40 laps continuously, so that in an emergency situation, I wouldn’t drown.

    Now I do 40 laps each time I hit the pool.  Here’s what I’ve observed:

    I start with enough confidence and energy to complete all 40 laps.  The first 2 laps are easy.  But then I start to feel tired.  The next 10 or so laps are the hardest. I start to witness my mind looking for excuses to stop. I feel it finding and pointing out the discomfort in my body so that it can maybe convince me that I’m too tired to continue.

    Once I get myself to complete 10 laps, things gets significantly easier, and my body is just riding out the repetitive movements.  Laps 20 to 30, and from 30 to 40 are a breeze.  When I actually hit lap 40, I feel that I can easily do 10 more laps.

    Life Patterns

    Upon further thought, I have noticed that this pattern of easy-difficult-easy can be seen in many other aspects of life: starting a business, starting a blog, learning a new skill, long distance running, etc.

    Let’s take blogging as an example. When a blogger first starts out, they are enthusiastic and hopeful for the future. Pretty easy so far. But all bloggers will go through a period near the start of their blogging career where they experience friction. They may feel discouraged that it’s tough to attract new readers or to market themselves. Or they may run into technology issues and they feel the urge to quite. But if they just hang on and persist through the discouragement and friction, they’ll reach a certain threshold where blogging and marketing become natural and easy, at which point they will be capable of continuing on indefinitely.

    The same is true for starting and running a successful business. It starts with fresh enthusiasm which makes the job appear easy. But soon, we experience some form of hardship or problem where we have to work long and challenging hours. The friction makes it tempting to quit, but more likely than not, if we soldier on, staying innovative and persistent, we will succeed.

    Take Away Lesson

    What I’ve learned through this observation is that persistence is the key! The ability to hanging on, when others have easily given up separates the failures from the triumphs.  In life, it isn’t about finding the most comfortable route, but rather finding destinations you want to arrive at and keeping moving until you get there.

    No matter how insurmountable a goal may seem, if you just keep trying, one step at a time, there will be a point at which the steps necessary to get there become an easy and effortless trek.

    Anything is possible.

  • Lifestyle Update – September 16, 2008

    Posted on 09.16.08 | 8 Comments

    Photo by Melissa Webb (See more images at her flickr stream)

    The past week seemed to have zipped by in a flash. Even though I’m not expected to show up at an office each day, I feel busier than ever.

    Evaluate Goals from Last Week

    My goals for last week were:

    • Read – Spend a minimum of two hours reading everyday
    • Exercise – Go jogging three times a week. Preferably, every other day. Do Yoga on off days.
    • Renew Spirit – Meditate in silence for 15 minutes twice daily.
    • Reduce Email Consumption – Spend no more than one hour on email a day, broken down into two 30 minute sessions.
    • Productivity - Set 3 achievable and bite sized goals every morning, commit to completing them first, before doing any other random tasks.

    How did I do? Here are the ones I’ve succeeded in:

    • Exercise – I went jogging every other day. YAY!  I would force myself to go out regardless of how late in the day it was: whether it was noon or 3pm (This used to be an excuse I used to avoid running). I’m learning that the more I do it, the less resistance I feel towards getting outside, and the further I can go without needing to stop. Pretty cool to observe how responsive our body is at adapting to change.  I have been doing 1.4 mile walk-runs. I would jog half way and speed-walk the other half back.  The goal next week is to jog all the way, both ways.
    • Reduce Email Consumption – I’ve gotten my email time down to about an hour a day during the week and rarely checking email on the weekend.  This feels really liberating, as I now have more time for other things I’ve been wanting to do.  It has, however, been difficult to peel myself away from the computer after an hour, knowing that I have more email that needs replying.  I think with time, I will get better at not beating myself up too much for not replying to email immediately.
    • Productivity - The biggest challenge with setting 3 bite sized goals every morning, is the impulse to set more than 3 goals. If I’m not careful, I’ll end up with a list of 9 must do items (becoming a wish list rather than the top three priorities).  So what I do now is list out top items I want to get done, even if there are more than three, and put the numbers 1, 2, and 3 beside the tasks with the highest priority. Everything else is an optional item, and I can only work on them if 1,2 and 3 are done. This is pretty challenging, as I feel a pull towards other items on the optional list and end up doing those instead.   Again, I’m getting better the more I practice it, both at evaluating what is realistic and shifting my focus to the priority items first.

    Goals that still need some work:

    • Read – I read about an hour a day for 3 days out of the week. After completing my tasks each day, it would be late, and this goal tended to be the item that fell off my plate.
    • Renew Spirit – I meditated for 15 minutes once the entire week. I think I’m gonna put this goal on hold until I can focus on it solely.

    I’m learning that I tend to underestimate how long things will take and I need to take into consideration unexpected events when planning my week.   For example, the article on vegetarian diet last week took 20 hours to write – unexpected meetings, errands and other admin tasks took up the other 20 hours.

    I’m also learning (once again) the importance of focusing on as few major goals as possible.  For the next week I will be focused solely on my exercise, email and daily productivity goals. I will get back to meditation, reading and rising early once I’ve habituated the other goals.

    All in all, the exercise alone has shifted my state towards a positive one.  I feel renewed and excited for the future.

    What’s New?

    I bought a ticket to Beijing a month ago, and last week, I bought a ticket from Beijing to Ürümqi, and then from Ürümqi to Kashgar. I leave this Friday (3 days). It’ll be an adventurous trip in a remote part of China. I’ll post more about this, later this week.

    I’ll be updating Simply Tina with pictures and words during my travels in China.

    Eeeeeee!!!! I’m so excited!

  • Thirty Saturdays: Lifestyle Update

    Posted on 09.05.08 | 8 Comments

    Photo: Margaret Durow

    A month ago, I had left my job and started this new life devoid of external responsibilities.  Here is an update on how that’s going so far.

    Being Away

    I had spent the first two weeks in Canada visiting my parents and tying up loose ends related to the parting of my last relationship.  It was an emotional ride.  I’m sad for what happened, but I am very hopeful for the bright future ahead.  Several weeks have passed, I now feel restored and whole once again.

    Last week, I traveled to LA for a 3-day relationship seminar taught by the amazing Alison Armstrong. The topic was marriage relationships, and as with Alison’s other seminars, focused on gaining clarity and understanding around the miscommunications between Men and Women.  I walked away feeling enlightened, refreshed and incredibly grateful for the gift of clarity.

    During the seminar, I had enrolled in their Mastery and Leadership Program for 2009. It’s a year-long training program to become a workshop leader and teach the same topics that have profoundly touched my life.  The purpose of the material taught is to create harmonious partnerships between men and women in all contexts, by uncovering the mysteries and misunderstandings between men and women.  I’m totally stoked!

    Coming Home

    It felt unnatural waking up every day and not needing to be anywhere in particular, or needing to get dressed to go out.  While I had a job, I longed for the weekends, and dreaded peeling myself out of bed in the morning for work. Well, now that every day seems like a Saturday, I have to be honest and say, “It feels a little strange.”
    (read more…)

  • India Ends with the Andaman Islands

    Posted on 04.30.08 | 11 Comments

    Beach on Havelock Island

    The Andaman Islands are a set of tiny islands sprinkled in the Indian Ocean. The islands are politically a part of India, but are geographically closer to Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). A hand full of indigenous tribes still reside within the jungles on secluded islands, mostly in the Nicobar islands. We spent two blissful weeks on Havelock Island, roaming around on a motorcycle, scuba diving, rolling down the sandy beaches, walking around the jungle looking for elephants, and enjoying fresh tropical fruits at the cost for pennies.

    The Andaman Islands felt like the calm lull after the storm. After enjoying a little slice of home in Brian’s comfortable and stylish flat in Chennai, we were back on the journey. We got to the airport early in the morning, only to find that our flight had been delayed for several hours. Since the security guard wouldn’t even let us in to the baggage check, we curled up on the leather covered airport benches. The Chennai airport was the most modern airport we’d seen in India. Having only seen the roads in the dark, Brian’s flat and the airport, we had a pretty high opinion of Chennai. I rested comfortably in an Indian airport, for the first time.

    (read more…)