Meeting Yoga

In a mere 3 years working on a desk-bound job, my body has taken a toll for more than I expected.

My mobility is crap. My hips and hamstrings are hopelessly tight, my right shoulder clicks all the time, and my wrists are both on the verge of snapping (at least that’s how it feels like). Let’s face it – I can’t squat down properly to pick up a pen nor I could sit long enough to feel my back begging for mercy.Sitting in a bad posture in front of the computer is bad, the only consolation is that I realised the necessity to do something about it at this very moment.It constantly felt like I am physically crippling away before its time. To be really honest, the thought is pretty scary. I mean, I literally can’t even scratch my back with my right hand. It could be worse, I agree, but I would like to do something about it right now.

Sitting in a bad posture in front of the computer is bad, the only consolation is that I realised the necessity to do something about it at this very moment.It constantly felt like I am physically crippling away before its time. To be really honest, the thought is pretty scary. I mean, I literally can’t even scratch my back with my right hand. It could be worse, I agree, but I would like to do something about it right now.

It constantly felt like I am physically crippling away before its time. To be really honest, the thought is pretty scary. I mean, I literally can’t even scratch my back with my right hand. It could be worse, I agree, but I would like to do something about it right now.

That’s when I met yoga in the wondrous land of YouTube.

Yoga postures look feasible, like a movement which your body suppose to work. Performing them, however, was a different story altogether. The more I try, the more I notice on the state of my body. The tightness, the sore points and the various problems that I have never realised before.

The worst nightmare in beginner yoga pose is the Downward Dog. I feel extremely awkward in that position. My hips are not high enough, my legs are not straight enough, my wrists are in pain and my heels are not on the floor. And we are not even talking about other poses yet. Yoga practice focuses on the state of your body and the awareness pushes you forward in improving day by day.  Let’s keep this going for now, and I will get there eventually.

Take a deep breath and release.

 

 

It ends or it doesn’t. 

It’s up to you, really. 

Either what you put yourself through (yes, I said what you put yourself through) finishes its course or it doesn’t – completely up to you. It’s ultimately your choice, in any event that took place. 

Whether we like it or not, we need to accept that everything has a beginning and an ending. But, don’t ever forget that it’s also your choice in every one of them.  

You decide to join a party. You decide to make friends. You decide to work for money. You decide to try a change. You decide to make it work. You decide to feel happy. You decide to not pursue your dreams. You can also decide to stop doing that. So what do you want to choose today?

“It ends or it doesn’t.

That’s what you say. That’s

how you get through it.

The tunnel, the night,

the pain, the love.

It ends or it doesn’t.

If the sun never comes up,

you find a way to live 

without it.

If they don’t come back,

you sleep in the middle of the bed,

learn how to make enough coffee 

for yourself alone.

Adapt. Adjust. 

It ends or it doesn’t.

It ends or it doesn’t.

We do not perish.”

– Caitlyn Siehl

Almost

She was beaming with enlightenment when she saw that post on Facebook. She walked over to the couch that I was slouching on and showed me a picture. 


“The world’s saddest word is the word – almost.” I must say, I agree with the sentiment. But isn’t the word – saddest, by definition, the saddest word in the dictionary. The attached concept of near to completion of a desired outcome, yet failing to obtain them to the word – almost, is regrettable. However, this emotion is derived from the unwillingness to accept failures right before its completion. 

One may choose to accept the concept of fate and write off this experience as “it was meant to be,” and that would not render the concept of almost being the saddest among other contenders. The degree of emotional investment are also subjective to the scenario. If one is less invested in the objective in sight than the others, the subject may not feel sadness in the same intensity despite the reference being the same case for multiple subjects. 

And even if you are heavily invested emotionally into the appropriate manner, you may not only feel sadness throughout the experience of potential loss and imminent failure. If that’s the case, is it still the saddest word ever? 

She looked at me and had to agree with my argument. Too bad, she almost had it. 

A Glimpse of Future

The door bell rang on a sunny afternoon.

I wipe my hands with a hand towel next to the fridge after I placed the experimental pie I was working on into the oven. “Coming,” I yelled while rushing out to get the door. Threw all my pillows up on the couch because it may set a bad example to the kids. I wouldn’t want to be the one to blame for messy upbringing.

I stood by the door and opened it when things are pretty much in place.

There stood Sharon and Esther with their kids. Sharon and her daughter were wearing matching floral skirt. Esther and her twins didn’t make that a priority. I squatted down and hugged the kids, but their names were a blur even when the names clearly came out of my mouth. Not sure how I handled the situation since there are so many kids, but things turned out to be fine. 

I ushered them into the kitchen and they all sat beside the counter top. After taking a bottle of red wine from the shelf, I popped the cork open and poured a glass of wine for the adults. And a little bit more for myself. They chuckled and still making jokes about me being alcoholic. I then head to the fridge and get the kids some milk. Yes, still loving milk after so many years.

We talked about work: how the market is fluctuating, how legislation could help, how to fix problems with an app, and basically everything under the sun. The kids were so cute when they are playing together.

By then, the kids have long left the kitchen and went roaming around the house. They would occasionally discover something interesting, you can tell when they are screaming or laughing uncontrollably. Occasionally, I would have to scream: “oh my goodness, be careful with that!” And run over to see if everything is alright.

I made carbonara with linguini – our sinful guilty pleasure since the day we know each other. And, refilled out wine several times. The kids were making a mess on their faces, which I made sure Esther clean that up before she leaves.

The pie in the oven is almost ready. You can tell when the sweet tart scent filled the air in the kitchen. I had too much fun watching them guess what’s actually inside the pie. Eventually, they surrendered and the I told them it’s beet root inside their bittersweet chocolate dessert.

The door bell rang again. This time, it’s two men outside of my door. Both arriving one after another right before the dessert ran out. By this time, the kids were sleeping on my large sofa covered with plenty of pillows. I let them in, and into the kitchen. Sharon’s husband helped himself to a bottle of beer and offered Esther’s husband the same. Wine is not their thing apparently. They each had a slice of the same cake and the surprised look on their face – it’s priceless.

Later into the night, we were talking and laughing on the carpet and bean bags. Losing weight, career advancement, investments and future travel plans, almost forgetting the fact that I had a TV. 

When it gets too late, they excused themselves and head home. They carried their kids in their arms, trying not to wake them. I hugged Sharon and Esther tight (except the husbands, since they are holding the kids), not wanting to forget any of this. I left the bottles and wine glasses on the coffee table. And fell asleep on the couch.

It was a good night.

And then I woke up, 20 years before what I thought would happen. It was still a very good night. 

Tokyo Sunrise

An RM800 return ticket to Tokyo.

My eyes were practically glued to the computer screen when my colleague, Vicky was standing next to me. I was partially poisoned by a full-fledged advertising campaign by Maddie, another colleague of mine, who just came back from a ten-day trip to Japan as well.”You will love it there,” she assured me with almost unprecedented confidence oozing out her every pore.

By the time I was thinking about the financial implication that I am about to incur, Vicky looked at me and asked: “What are you still thinking about? This is really cheap.” Well, she did have a point, that was what I already knew. How much is the entire trip going to cost me?

Vietnam Air was something I have never taken before. But oh, what the heck. I may not know when exactly is my last day, but counting back the days after deducting the possible amount of annual leave left, I should be able to go by the last week of June. When I clicked “Buy Now”, I know one thing for sure: I am definitely going to Japan now. With a quick search on Airbnb, I booked a bed in a dormitory for RM70 per night at a district near Shinjuku station.

I barely had the time to plan for anything. We were rushing for the Raya campaign in the office on the last few weeks I was with NagaDDB. On the very day of departure, I was only armed with Maddie’s itinerary (which was the most beautiful one to date I have ever seen) and Tokyo Cheapo (which was recommended by Calvin Choong), then I was on my way to the land of the rising sun.

The flight was decent, I was able to get 30KG luggage allocation and in-flight meal with an AirAsia price. The only downside is the one-hour transit at Hanoi airport, which I had no qualms about. Arrived at Narita airport in the morning and took Tokyo Shuttle to Tokyo station for 1,000 yen (~RM39). Then swiftly bought a Suica card for 500 yen (~RM18) and reloaded 4,000 yen (~RM156) at the Tokyo station.

Along the rail, I seek nothing. #liveauthentic

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I must admit, deciphering the Tokyo train system will take some time. Do spend some time on that on your first day before taking the super express train and ended up a few hundred kilometers away from your intended destination. Some lines like Odakyu line have local trains that stop in all stations and express trains that stop in some stations only. Avoiding the rush hour is a smart thing to do because remember those sardine-packed train videos you see on social media? It’s as real as it gets.

If you are 6ft and above, please be extra careful with low door frames, ceilings, showerheads, beddings and almost everything here in Japan. Travel light with small bags because maneuvering in compact shops and restaurants would require extensive planning as well.

Don't rain on my parade. #takemethere

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During my stay in Tokyo, the weather was not as forgiving as I wish it would.

It was the spring showers for the entire week I was here. Probably because of the rain, I was down with the basic package of under the weather: flu, cough, and fever. Note to self, avoid June at all cost. I was lucky to have a friend while I was there, KK bought medicine for me and my daily schedule was reduced down to 4 hours per day before my head felt like it was going to explode into million pieces.

Walked the streets of a suburban neighbourhood at Nakano, intentionally got lost between the high rise buildings near Ginza and wandered around everywhere in between these two. Liberating may not be the word I’m looking for, but it was surely distinctive.

Keep on keeping on. #takemethere

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I won’t discount the fact that it’s really fast-paced in Tokyo. People are all living their life, efficiently, I suppose. Beside one of the most advanced metropolitan concrete jungle, culture and history still lived side-by-side. Personally, I enjoyed the tension between progression and preservation in cities like this. They are reserved and open and the same time, which was starkingly interesting to me. You would see traditional Izakaya (Japanese restaurant and pub) on one end of the street and a 7-storey sex shop on the other end. Personally, it was very eye-opening.

Tell me that you won't forget me after you have moved on. #liveauthentic

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Eating was utterly euphoric in Japan, but please refrain from converting the currency. The trick here is to eat like a king during lunch hour by taking advantage of their lunch sets in most restaurants and eat Japanese food in fast food chains all around Tokyo for dinner. Lunch sets would roughly cost around 1,500 yen (~RM58) and dinner would set you back around 500 yen (~RM18). Take a random trip and have a go at the local supermarket and try their rice bowls. Their portions are huge, even for me, and it tastes amazing. Worth every yen you poured into the cash registry.

Take a sip of Japanese whiskey while you’re at it. Or, the newest craze in town, the Japanese wine, if you prefer something lighter. And grab a bottle of umeshu for 1,500 yen (~RM58) before you head back to your dorm and you’ll stay happy for the night and make some new friends too!

I won’t consider myself a shopping kind of person. You know, those who won’t buy anything even if he spent a day in Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok. But when I took a spin at Tokyu Hands, a lifestyle store that sells practically anything under the sun (can be found in the more crowded train stations), I ended up with a mug, a coffee grinder, cold brew bottle, and three tea brewers, which set me back by around 10,000 yen (~RM390). I guess, I can’t resist creative solutions to our everyday grind.

I went on to meet up another friend, Chen Liang before flying back home. Splurged a bit on our food budget and tried the Japanese buffet Yakiniku (grilled meat) for 5,000 yen (~RM195) per person. Broke my allocation of meat for the entire week ahead, because it was simply a meat galore. If you can’t live without meat, please make sure you put this in your itinerary.

Took Tokyo Shuttle back to Narita airport and grabbed whatever was left of Tokyo Banana as souvenirs for around 1,000 yen (~RM39) for 8 pieces. I was carrying 6 boxes around the airport like I’m addicted to these banana cake filled with banana flavoured custard.

The total cost for the entire trip? RM3,000 with random splurges here and there. Yes, and it’s entirely possible. Perhaps it’s your turn to go to Japan now. =)

Groceries are therapeutic.

Something about groceries.

The aisle between the two shelves of everyday items, keeps me on the ground. It reminds me to get real and take it slow. 

Maybe it’s the warm cozy feeling you get from the bread section: the distinct scent and the innate comfort you can only get  from carbohydrates. The versatility of flour as a reminder to be flexible dealing with problems and obstacles.

Or the personal care aisle to put superficial depiction of aesthetic on context. And kick me in the gut when I forgot what matters is actually on the inside. After all the ups and downs, you could always treat yourself to a long long bath. 

Probably something to do with the non-halal area. “Respect diversity”, it says, as the fridges filled with ham and sausages hum in the background. The wide array of international wines tell you that there’s always something for everybody here. Preferences are subjective, always be moderate about yours.

Perhaps it’s the fruits – colourful and healthy. Almost seems like a warning signs or a personal trainer screaming, “eat better” right next to my ears. But still, I adore them. Flavour and texture made life more exciting, right?

I like the condiment shelves too. Serves as a personal goal to always ignite senses and keep things in balance. Travel further and explore everything – and life will never have a dull moment, especially on conversations. 

Whenever my mood gets cloudy, or maybe rainy, a walk in a grocery store does wonders to me. And by the time I’m leaving, the cashiers will remind me to take care of my personal finance too.

On my way home, I will take a deep breath and get a cup of coffee. Well, just because. 

The Transition

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While the post was stuck in the middle of the year, time slipped by and it’s almost Christmas. The impact of being busy is not insignificant and the effects of “doing it tomorrow” is compounding. Without even realising it consciously, I had been neglecting this blog for an extended period of time.

I’m sorry. To myself mainly. For the lack of determination, and this distinctly bad habit forming routine. Really, it wasn’t anything drastically difficult. Saving a few hundred a month, write a post every week, or even exercising every day. What is this lurking energy-sapping laziness of mine is doing to me?

Am I going to live by like this again? Year after year, promising myself the same thing over and over again?

No. It can’t be it.

Granted, 2015 has been a really good one. Checking off one of my life’s bucket list – backpacking to Europe alone. With close-to-none commitment, I embarked on a one-month journey to a land of the west. Taking along my immense curiosity and my trusty bus 11, I was wandering around 8 countries and more than 12 cities on a very manageable budget.

I loved every single moment of that.

Now that I’m physically back in Malaysia (whilst my mind isn’t), there are things to be done. I really need to be back on track, quick.

Reflecting back on 2015, I understand that I have to set my foot down and deal with my debts as soon as possible. Setting up emergency funds in case of, uh, emergencies (duh!). May need to adjust my monthly expenditures and refrain from impulsive purchases.

While I’m at it, I am going to attempt to get bigger by working out at least 3 days a week. Pull-ups will be addressed once and for all, with the rest of the basic fundamental of strength training being covered as well. I am going to step a little further outside my comfort zone because it is absolutely necessary.

I’m going to learn more things and move on further in my career. I will hone my social media management skills by reading more of the materials pertaining to this matter. Read, read and read more to understand social trends and expanding my cultural horizon.

I will not stop here, I am going to go further. And this time, it’s going to happen because I am making this happen.