a wedgie of a problem

No! No! No! No! No!

I just came back from a run and although my knees didn’t feel awful while I was out on the track, they ached when I climbed the stairs up to my apartment. To be honest, they ache all the time, especially when I wear heels. And I wear wedges and platforms a lot (they are my magic ‘fat-day’ solution). Thinking that I’d better do a little research on the types of exercises I need to strengthen them, I found out something I wish I hadn’t.

Now we all know heels are bad. Whatever. The results (I tell myself everyday I come home with sore feet) are worth tottering around on my 4-inch wedges. But in a study performed in 2001, both American and UK scientists found that compared to thin heels (killer stilettos), thicker heels actually put more stress on the knees as it adds way more pressure on your quadriceps – 30% more than walking barefoot – which in turn, deteriorates the health of your knees.

Their advice?

Wear trainers, walk to work and lose weight.

What the… ?!

No. I cannot accept that. I am going to work on strengthening my knees with exercises that sound very futuristic instead.

Every morning now, I shall devote at least 15 minutes to 3-D Matrix Hops, 3-D Matrix Lunges, Single-leg Balance Squats, Mirror Matrix and Two-legged Jumping. I will put my row of wedges in a line and stare at them (in case I lose the will to do the work) and do this for my shoes.

Oh yes, and for my knees too.

*sob*

This cannot be happening…

Just in case though, I have planned a week’s worth of outfits that match flats instead. I guess a part of me does recognize that when I wear the heels, my knees do ache that little bit more. I was just hoping it was my imagination.

(See the original BBC report here)

*

When I began overhauling the state of my health life, I never expected that it’d extend into my wardrobe. You see, like any other girl, I love my clothes and shoes. I have carefully collected a very wide selection of garments that span almost 15 years of devotion to personal style.

My wardrobe now takes up an entire room and to be honest, there’s not enough space there. My clothes have somehow creeped into other parts of the house and there are pieces of random jackets, tops, dresses and bags hanging everywhere. This has been made worse by the recent renovation works I had to accommodate in the bedroom/closet.

When I began running, I realized with a little sadness that I stopped styling myself every morning. There were days when I was contented to leave the house in a simple top, cardigan and jeans, sans my arm-filled bangles and various accessories. These things became less important as I focused more on preparing a healthy breakfast before I left the house.

I used to rush out in a hurry after spending almost an hour dolling myself up. Now, I spend about 20 minutes extra in bed, 20 minutes on myself and 20 minutes on breakfast. I have become (horrors!) a little slack in my personal style.

Now to lose my shoes too?

I guess I just have to ask myself… what’s important to me now?

*

My first thought as we confirmed our trip to Nepal (we’re doing the Annapurna circuit) was ‘how am I going to style my hair every morning? Can I bring my flat iron? Do they even have electricity in the cabins?’

Don’t mock me now.

deadline.

I hate deadlines.

I dislike it even more when I miss them repeatedly. The internal frustration at my lack of self-discipline is probably the only thing that feels worse, especially when I know that it lessens the trust that others can place in me. Right now, I have missed several and know that tomorrow, when I head in to work, I’ll be playing catch-up.

Oddly, this happens most with my writing.

I can’t remember ever submitting an article on time. I have thrown a few lines together for a script (sub-standard, no less) and felt awful after. Years on, I haven’t learnt my lesson. I know I need to start earlier, and for the record, I try!

I start my introduction, I do my research, and somehow, after letting the ideas percolate for a while, I begin writing. Only to realize that I need more time for the words to string themselves together in a way that feels… satisfactory. By the time I’m done, I’ve already missed the extended deadline.

I came back from my trip with a determination that I would be on-time in my submissions. What a joke. I immediately missed two, forgot another two appointments today and found myself in a confused and bewildered state, scrambling to keep the balls up in the air.

The thing is… I actually can’t live without deadlines. If I didn’t have them, I find myself imposing a time frame of some sort to work within. It’s as if (oh god, can it be true?) I need these deadlines to get inspired.

‘A deadline is, simply put, optimism in its most kick-ass form. It’s a potent force that, when wielded with respect, will level any obstacle in its path. This is especially true when it comes to creative pursuits.’

– Chris Baty

God. Throw me a lifeline. Please.

*

Origin: 1864

It began as a real line, drawn in the dirt or marked by a fence or rail, restricting prisoners in Civil War camps. They were warned, “If you cross this line, you’re dead.” To make dead sure this important boundary was not overlooked, guards and prisoners soon were calling it by its own bluntly descriptive name, the dead line.

An 1864 congressional report explains the usage in one camp: “A railing around the inside of the stockade, and about twenty feet from it, constitutes the ‘dead line,’ beyond which the prisoners are not allowed to pass.” Nothing could be more emphatic than dead line to designate a limit, so it was happily applied to other situations with strict boundaries.

For example, the storyteller O. Henry wrote in 1909 about crossing “the dead line of good behavior.” But it was the newspaper business that made deadline more than just a historical curiosity. To have the latest news and still get a newspaper printed and distributed on time requires strict time limits for those who write it.

Yet many are the excuses for writers to go beyond their allotted time: writers’ block, writers’ perfectionism, or just plain procrastination.

Our urgent twentieth century has made such deadlines essential not just for reporters and other writers but in every kind of activity; there are deadlines for finishing a job or assignment, for entering a contest, for ransoming hostages, or for buying a product at the special sale price.

(see original article here)

I guess I can be grateful that I won’t be fatally shot any time soon.

*whimper*

my beautiful limp

It was a crummy me, living a day, today. I can’t fault the events that unfolded. I fault me. So I withdrew into a quiet shell and did my best to smile and speak with lighter tones. I couldn’t avoid people though, and the longer I stayed around, the bitchier I snarled. Lovely.

The whole day began with an urgent meeting. I had to cut short my plans for the morning to rush down to the office, where I received feedback on my style of communication, with a specific someone. Apparently, I’d not shown enough support and was found to be questioning her requests, which she felt wasn’t what I should be doing.

‘I may occasionally get opinionated,’ I explained, ‘but I am in full support of everything she calls for. If I came across as superior or proud, I really am sorry.’

‘I never doubted your heart,’ was the boss’ reply, ‘just try to understand the sensitivities of everyone else.’ And so I shall.

I will try. If it means laying aside my opinions for the better good of everyone else, I will. I don’t want to come to a place where my pride gets the better of me.

“A fight is going on inside me,” said an old man to his son. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf is evil. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other wolf is good. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you.”

The son thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Which wolf will win?”

The old man replied simply, “The one you feed.”

– Wendy Mass (Jeremy Fink & The Meaning of Life)

*

‘I am so tired of all this! I am frustrated with the mistakes I keep making…’

I was having a conversation – rant, more like – with the Dream Maker one day and close to tears, I wanted a solution.

‘When can all these failures cease?’ I asked.

‘Are you surprised with your weaknesses?’ He asked me in return, ‘because I’m not. Are you prepared to live for the rest of your life knowing that you are going to mess up occasionally?’

I wasn’t. I want to be perfect. Is that really too much to ask?

‘Look,’ He continued, ‘If you were perfect, would you need to lean on me? If you could walk without a limp, would I be your crutch?’

He wasn’t the Author of my weaknesses but He understood the failings of my flesh. My brain, albeit a little slow, finally caught up with what He was trying to say to me. He wasn’t expecting me to meet every demand perfectly. Sin is defined as missing the mark – and shit, I was missing it constantly… whether it be someone else’s expectations or mine.

But each time I miss the mark, and during the seasons where I feel as though I’m constantly failing, His grace abounds all the more. His favour, in effect, grows fully richer to meet them for me. (Romans 5:20)

I stopped walking then. Quietly, I looked up to the morning sky.

‘Alright then. Dear God… will you be my crutch? I invite you now to be all that I want to be, need to be. All that I’m lacking, God, come and be my support, the fulfillment of every demand.’

That incident happened two years ago.

Today, I still walk with my beautiful limp, my saving Crutch in hand.

*

Two years on… I look into the mirror.

I sigh.

And hope that somehow, I have grown. Because in the face of correction, it’s easier to think that every journey has been wasted. But that’s just a harsh reality.

It isn’t, however, truth.

nothing

‘There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.’

– Albert Einstein

I started the day the usual way: Get into the office, set up the laptop, wash my tumbler and make a fresh cup of tea, sit down to read the Word, start up laptop and check emails, do work.

I did everything but the last item. And felt robbed that the list of ten tasks to accomplish wasn’t deliciously ticked off, one by one. What did I do today?

‘I feel so… discouraged,’ I said to Cutesy. ‘On a given day, if you asked me to write something, I’d churn it out with ease. But recently, I find that I can’t write. I am just so…’

‘Scattered?’ Cutesy laughed. ‘It could be that you love to do so many things you’re stretched out all over the place. You need to focus and perhaps, let go of some of the things you love to do.’

I kept quiet after that. I knew what she was hinting at and I’m not ready to let go and walk away from my other responsibilities. I’ve always felt that while focus is important, we need to keep something in our lives that is incongruent with what we do daily.

A construction worker who reads. A cab driver who knits. A financial analyst who plays in a band. A manager who dances. A lawyer who paints. It all makes sense to me. The dissimilar areas of our lives inspire each other. Passion has never made sense anyway. Or at least, that’s my firm belief.

Well, it’s 11.07pm and the little ones are finally asleep. I have my coffee, my music and a beautiful long night ahead to prove that statement right.

‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’

– Ernest Hemingway

I am ready to bleed.

*

From childhood, the one thing ingrained in me was to count my blessings. Before I get thoroughly introspective and this pity party gets full-blown, I’m going to count the nothing that I did.

1. It rained the entire day. Gorgeous. I breathed in the air and felt alive.
2. I discovered a new brown-rice tea in the pantry. Yes, it’s expired and no one has touched it. It’s therefore… all mine.
3. I contacted the guys who can do laser lights for the upcoming event – all three of them. Wonderful.
4. I printed out the transcripts. That counts, right? Yes? Okay, that’s a loser count.
5. I wore a completely new outfit combination. Never mind that I was in the exact shade of my morning cab. Gah.
6. I replied two personal emails.
7. I painted my nails black. Last night… I don’t care. This still counts!
8. I managed to squeeze in an episode of CSI. A marvel really, when you consider the free time I have.
9. The new train line has finally open and the Mother and I took the train home, instead of our usual cab. A feat, I say!
10. Two mobile phones follow me wherever I go. I changed the ringer-tone for the corporate one and set up the data system for the other to download stuff from the internet.
11. I taught JapGirl how to coil her wires.
12. I changed my mind about buying the iPhone. Decided to wait for the newer one. And proceeded to change my mind a further two more times.

‘If the real world were a book, it would never find a publisher. Overlong, detailed to the point of distraction – and ultimately, without a major resolution.’

– Jasper Fforde (Something Rotten)

Yes, I am d.i.s.t.r.a.c.t.e.d. and terribly unfocused.

But I am going to get down to work now so wish me the best!

Ooooh wait… I just received an interesting message from a friend…

[walks off into the night with phone in hand]

pins and needles

Paper-thin convictions
Turning another page
Plotting how to build myself to be
Everything that I am not at all

Sometimes I get tired of pins and needles
Facades are a fire on the skin
And I’m growing fond of broken people
As I see that I am one of them

Oh why must I work so hard?
Just so I can feel like the noble ones?
Obligations to my heart are gone
Superficial lines explain it all

MuteMath

Paresthesia, or pins and needles, is the sensation of prickling, numbness or tingling that one gets when your limb falls asleep. It mostly happens in the hands and feet, when a sustained pressure has been applied on a nerve. It’s interesting to note though, that the pins and needles begins when the pressure is lifted. When blood courses through again.

I walked away from a full day’s shoot, only to enter a night of pins and needles.

‘Was it because of the girl you met?’ Spike asked me, as I we stood in line for a cab.

‘Yes…’ I replied. I couldn’t explain it then. I knew I was exhausted and drained on every level but why, why was I such a bitch to the girl?

‘You weren’t harsh,’ Spike assured me. ‘You were just stern. I could see that you were losing it though but that’s because I know you.’

Unfortunately, a host of other people could see that I was ‘losing it’ too.

‘She needed someone to talk to her that way!’ Kitty exclaimed, trying to encourage me… but I still walked away under my great cloud. I hate the fact that I couldn’t manage myself or my words well. I am supposed to be able to do it all! Aren’t I?

It sucked.

Not the girl. Not the encounter. But my personal expectations. And my apparent ‘failure’ before so many others. Firstly, it was a Sunday (cue bells and hallelujahs) and I’m supposed to be a leader (strike pose of warm encouragement). I had just spent the entire day being a good host to the interviewees we were shooting. Smiles, laughter and godly words were all part of today’s script.

I don’t think I had been pretending to be someone else, as we all find ourselves sometimes needing to do. And yet… I found my person crumbling towards the end. At dinner with the family and Spike, I barely spoke. Silent and quiet, I just couldn’t be happy. I was questioning myself… damn the introspection.

Is living life a great juggling act between the many different identities we have? And when the balls fall to the ground… is it a bad thing to find that we are unable to do the simplest things without our identities? Are the identities we have then mere… facades? Are they crutches?

Or was it because I’d stopped pretending to be someone else and was living life as me, that my inability finally showed through? Did all this hurt like pins and needles because the pressure to be someone else was finally lifted?

*

‘What was the girl like?’ The Mother asked.

‘She’s emotionally unstable. I think she might be bi-polar,’ I replied.

‘That’s what I thought!’ The Mother said, ‘She was feeling depressed and you identified with her. So you grew depressed.’

‘I don’t get you…’

‘You have such an open heart. You identify with people even when you don’t want to. You sensed her struggles and without realising it, began to see life through her eyes,’ The Mother explained. ‘What you’re feeling is not you.’

It’s not me. This darkness is not mine.

And the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has never overpowered it.

– John 1:5

The. darkness. is. not. me.

And it will never overpower me.

Rainbows, anyone?

sick

sickinbed

I finally hauled my wobbly ass out of bed to the doctor’s. I sat there shivering slightly in the cold, white reception area, mentally composing my list of ailments for recitation.

I feel hot and cold at the same time. My body aches began two days ago and everything hurts so bad I can’t sleep. No, I don’t have a runny nose. Yes, I have a slight dry cough. No, I haven’t traveled overseas recently.

‘It seems to me you have a viral fever.’ Says doc.

This of course, means that he has nothing to give me that can actually cure me. He can, however, dope me up to alleviate the pain. So I took my 3 packets of pills, a bottle of cough syrup and 2 days medical leave, paid him $30 and returned home.

The drugs don’t work.
[cue music please]

Seriously. I am still in pain.

A wonder then, that I had 4 peanut-butter & nutella sandwiches today. I love the creamy, crunchy texture of peanuts and chocolate mushed in my mouth, washed down with either a coffee or a cup of earl grey tea. These sandwiches were in addition to my regular meals. Yep, unfortunately for me, the sickness has not affected my appetite at all.

Great. So when I return to the world, I will be rounder, flabbier and pasty because I’d been hidden away from the sun for so long.

[cue whine]

Cooped up with nothing to do, I managed to finish two books by Thomas Harris: Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal Rising. That was… nice.

what have I done?

rockon

What.have.I.done.

I wanted to celebrate the fact the mad days are over. I wanted to stay at home, under the blankets reading a book. I wanted to relax, get lazy and watch endless movies on DVDs. To date, I have almost 10 books waiting on my table, 2 complete seasons of Entourage to watch, 3 seasons of Heroes and 4 movies piled on top of the telly.

Somehow, I found myself part of a team set on climbing a mountain and a mere two weeks after, signed up for a 50km marathon. True, I can hire a porter to carry my bag up the mountain and the run is split with another friend so I may only need to complete 25km. But what in the world am I doing? How did I end up here?

I grip my head in my hands and laugh.

I swear I am NOT an over-achiever. I am also terribly out of shape…

God help me.

Breathe in deeply.

Now, what shall I listen to?

comparing

writer

Beautiful.

I read his entry and inspired, I came back to my space and stared at the screen for a while. My words felt clumsy. Silly. Child-like scribbles on the wall. The thoughts in my mind were there. They just floated around like dust in a ray of sunlight, unwilling to string themselves into prose like his did.

Why don’t you just give up?

I thought about it. I really did. But then, I never did begin writing because I wanted to please a reader. I wrote because there is no other way I know to reach deep within myself and make sense of my convoluted, sinewy lines of thoughts. I write because I need to. Sometimes, they are inspired. Sometimes, they meander. Tonight, I write like an unfit man who just started running his first mile.

And while I sulk, you can read his writing below. Enjoy.

“She was a girl made out of words.

I would never find out how she came into existence, the way she burst into being into this life. I imagine it would be like the way the colours change and shift during sunset – blazing amber and diffusing angry orange, lightening and softening into a hazy mix of blush-pink and rich lilac, all in the space of mere moments – and before you knew it, the sky darkened as it swelled with the hues of a deep, mysterious purple.

You stood there, mouth agape, eyes transfixed, each filled with colour. Tasting the sweet salt of the sea air on your tongue.

Looking away your gaze would fall on her, woven together by strange alphabets wrung from lost languages, finding her way into your world in those moments the colours changed. Those moments that your eyes missed.

And just like that your world had changed forever. With a single glance. It’s just like how that tired old cliche goes: ‘Words have power’. If you let them, they reach into you with long fingers and a grip like death’s: they will wrap themselves around your heart and write themselves across it.

Words can have a hold over you that clings on even in the afterlife. They unmend and they unravel just as well as they make sense of things. They destroy. Just look at how words on a screen can break the heart of a boy miles away. They drip hate, unveil scorn, and they will leave you behind with the same fierceness with which you pursued them. They leave you utterly alone, gasping, crying even, in the darkness.

But words — they are the dreams of heaven. The bliss turning your toes fleet and light as if they could fly. The brightest smile you have ever seen. They’re all just words. Words that read themselves out to you, long and soft and laced with music like a voice over the phone, strung together by sentences and syntax, pulled like string into the most beautiful girl you know.

She was just like that. A girl made out of words.

It scares me sometimes, when I realise that words are the only things I have left in me.”

Comparing. There’ll always be someone out there better. Someone more articulate, smarter, prettier… I guess somewhere along the line, we’ve just got to get comfortable in our skins. Thank god there’s always someone out there who inspires us to get better at what we’re doing.

Thanks dude.

shit on the walls

I just found out that the Housekeeper has been using the same sponge to:

a) clean the toilet
b) wash the basin
c) pick up hair from the drainage
d) scrub the walls and floor tiles

This of course means (in my over-active imagination) that whatever lies in the toilet bowl is now spread out all over the bathroom.

Crap.

the eve of all things cabbage

I ate too much.

Soy milk & pancakes.
Salad, Enchiladas, brownies, coffee.
Mushroom risotto, vegetable chowder.

Maybe it’s my body rebelling against the onslaught of cabbage it’s anticipating, I have no idea. But it happens each time I just think about dieting. My body immediately gets hungry and I crave things I normally wouldn’t.

sigh

So I went out and got the stuff needed for the soup tomorrow. Everything is in place. Tomorrow’s diet is cabbage soup and fruits (namely apples; they’re easier to lug around). Let’s see how that goes.

Funny thing that happened today was the trip I took to the gym. I didn’t go there to exercise, I was merely checking the place out and when I returned, I found out that at least 4 others have been planning to sign up too.

Fat season for everyone?

Let’s just hope that the gym decides to give us a group discount.