Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Market hop: Matakana Market

July 25th, 2015. I woke up early. I had turned 25 the day before. Quarter of a century old. A milestone. The year went by so quickly. I still remembered how I celebrated my 24th the year before. It was a cold day.  A long day teaching and working in the lab. A day that ended with a massive portion of waffles and frozen yoghurt, then home to chow down more longevity noodles and cake. It was an emotional day remembering the ones that used to feature in my life and were now just a cameo.  

This year though, the occasion was a lot sunnier. I woke up early, but lay in bed. The skies were clear on this winter's day. At 8.30am, the door bell rang, way earlier than I'd anticipated. I was still in my pyjamas! I'm not ready yet. "It's ok, take your time. We're not in a rush." I scrambled out of my bed and into the bathroom and had a quick shower. I was planning to wash my hair but looked like that luxury was to be left for another day. As per usual, my mind listed the things that I wanted to get done that day. Stop off at the Britomart market, pick up some free-range eggs, drop Sarah off, go for a run, get some study done, maybe go shopping? With all these in mind, I didn't know how to dress. I decided that I'll dress in my jeans and super colourful jumper. I can run in jeans right? Then wrap myself up in my puffy black Kathmandu down jacket. Not like I was going to see anyone else. 

Came down stairs at about 8.50 and said hi to Peter and Sarah. I was still slightly furious at Peter for coming way too early so I couldn't get ready properly. He'd said 9/9.30am. Oh well. Let's make the most of the day then. After saying goodbye to the parents and brother we walked out the door. Peter had his arms around me and started stirring me to one side of the path and just as I was about to ask him what he was doing, "BAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!" out jumped five other familiar faces and scared the living heck out of me. What the...?! Why are you here? "HAPPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!" What? I thought you were at work... I thought Sarah was going to... What??!! Hahaha. That was one of the most genuine surprises I'd had in a while. The last one was my twenty second birthday. 

It turned out that a day of market, running, studying and shopping was completely scratched. Wearing a face full of sleep and lack of make up, my friends stirred me around for an extremely full-on day of market (Matakana), fed me delicious vegetarian pie, drove me all the way across town to Botany Paradice where I managed to hold my balance on the blades and inch across the ice, shipped me across town again for some vegetarian Thai meal, walked into a room where we had to solve clues and puzzles to escape from, then sat me down in a house where we played a bunch of board games. It was an eventful day to say the least. An unexpected surprise. 

Amidst the surprise, I managed to think quick and run back into the house to grab my camera. How long has it been since I played with it? Too long. The weather was perfect. The lighting was beautiful. The scenery and atmosphere was hyped and colourful. It was a great way to rekindle my photography flames again. I'm so grateful for the amazing friends I have. I'm so grateful for living in a beautiful country like New Zealand. I'm grateful for the great sense of adventure that us kiwis have. I'm grateful for the content that we feel just basking in the sun, sipping in the vibrant sights and smells and enjoying the company of each other. 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

{Small Steps Everyday}: Milestone 23/10/2015

Many people have spoken about it, but one never really fully understand unless they have experienced skin issues. This rings true especially if you're an adult as acne is usually associated with teenagers with raging hormones. But for me, I only really started having skin problems in my twenties. Before that, my skin was as shiny as a baby's bottom. While I was lucky enough to never have had a full face break out, the persistence of the problem was still a massive blow to the self-esteem. It was especially bad last year, with the stress of my master's degree, the poor sleeping and eating habits and the endless days stuck in the lab.

After I completed my studies, I gave myself a year's time to improve my health and hopefully along with it my skin problems. In the last few months, I have adjusted my eating habits and my sleeping habits. I cut out all cold food (as our bodies operate at an optimum temperature of about 37C, eating cold food or drinks stresses it out, decreases its ability to circulate blood and qi properly, lowers the immune system and thus the ability to fight off pathogens and eliminate toxins). I cut out bread (not easy!), which according to TCM is bad for digestion, especially for someone who has weak spleen and poor digestion. I started sleeping early, going to bed at 11pm the latest if I can help it. I started exercising. And I got into the routine of chanting and when I have time, meditating.

All these changes to my lifestyle took an enormous amount of willpower. But as with anything, the hardest part was the first step. Having my "Smalls Steps Everyday" list written down really kickstarted this whole lifestyle change. And although I don't refer to it often, I'm slowly doing more of the things on the list, and the effect on my physical and mental health has been awesome!

My stamina has improved greatly. Although I still can't run super long stretches, I can at least run now haha. Still think I'm gonna end up crawling on the 12 km Traverse happening next Sunday!!!! But I'm happy that at least I won't be crawling the whole way! And I think one of the best things about starting this exercise routine is that I'm feeling less self-conscious about my physique. I'm accepting the way my body is supposed to look and prioritising my health over my weight. I also realised that another benefit of running is that it trained my persistence and tolerance. Run a bit further. One more tree. Another one. Past that corner. That intersection. Run through the pain. Enjoy the pain.

Although I've cut out certain foods from my diet, ironically, in other ways, I feel more liberated. I used to be really strict on myself regarding what I can eat - no junk food, nothing deep fried or too fatty, no refined foods, no snacks. But I'm a lot more relaxed about it now and allow myself to eat what my body feels like. They say if you're craving a particular type of food it means your body needs it, right? I feel a lot happier now that I have made that change of mindset. After all, it's not like I'm eating truckloads of chips in one go, although I bought some Rice Thins the other day and I just could not stop eating it.

I feel my skin has improved recently. Although I have to remind myself to be patient as it often goes through cycles of clear, clear, omigosh clear! And then no...no..... not again.... I'm also telling myself not to be affected by it if it does come back. It shouldn't dictate how I feel or think. Just let it be and it will let me be. But the honey and lemon face mask really helps! And it's super cheap. All you need is a few drops of lemon juice and not even a quarter teaspoon of honey and slather that on your face. It feels sticky and the lemon gives a sharp tingly sensation, but I'm not bothered by it.

Six months after the first submission, I finally received my grades for my masters thesis and will be graduating with first class honours in May next year!
And I'm so close to finishing my GCNZIA course, which is also super exciting. But now the issue of finding a supervisor and a job comes creeping up. No stress! Just try my best!